Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon issued the following statement on the social isolation of seniors during the holiday season:
“Although the holidays are a joyous time for many Albertans, this can also be a difficult time of year. While families, friends and neighbours gather to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season, social isolation is a serious issue for some people in our communities, including seniors.
“Social isolation occurs when seniors have limited quality connections with others. This could be due to living arrangements, the loss of a loved one, a change in health, lack of community resources, or reduced access to transportation.
“We know social isolation contributes to poor health, loneliness, and emotional distress. In extreme cases, social isolation is both a risk factor for and a result of elder abuse. Though social isolation is not tied to a particular time of year, some seniors may find it especially difficult to cope during the holidays.
“Fortunately, we all can help make a difference.
“I encourage all Albertans to reach out to the seniors in their lives. Call them to catch up, invite them to dinner, or join them for a holiday event in their residence or in their community. Even a small interaction can have a meaningful impact.
“Our government is committed to working with our partners to ensure communities and local organizations have the tools they need to identify, prevent and address social isolation and elder abuse.
“I’m pleased to announce that new resources are available to help raise awareness of social isolation. A poster, rack card and fact sheet will help ensure seniors know they are not alone, explain how to ask for help and how to provide help, and identify the relationship between social isolation, loneliness and elder abuse. I hope health providers, civil society organizations, private businesses and everyday Albertans put these resources to good use.
“Earlier this year, we released the Addressing Elder Abuse: A Toolkit for Developing a Coordinated Community Response to Elder Abuse. The toolkit provides a five-stage process to help communities develop local solutions to reduce the risk of elder abuse.
“These resources and many more are available on alberta.ca.
“In addition, the government awarded nearly $800,000 to organizations across Alberta to focus on social inclusion of diverse seniors populations. Through these grants, local organizations focus on engaging seniors who may be at risk of becoming socially isolated.
“The Sage Seniors Association is an excellent example. It is developing a Virtual Seniors Centre to increase the accessibility of information and resources for seniors who experience barriers to accessing in-person services. I am so proud to support this meaningful work.
“Together, we can help identify, prevent and reduce social isolation and elder abuse year?round.”