The top priority of HelpAge’s work in Canada is addressing social isolation and vulnerable seniors. An estimated 7.4 million Canadian (21% of the population) are over 60 years of age. By 2041, seniors are projected to make up 24.5% of the Canadian population. The life expectancy of Canadian seniors is 81 years.
In 2015, HelpAge Canada launched a national campaign to reduce social isolation and loneliness among Canadian seniors (RISE). In Nunavut, we sparked the creation of, and continue to support the Nunavut Seniors’ Society, the first organization to speak as “one voice” for the interests of older persons. For several years, we have been working closely with other organizations and faith groups to develop initiatives aimed at identifying older persons at risk of isolation or neglect. In Ottawa the Seniors in Need Program provides assistance for seniors who are at risk or in crisis.
Reach Isolated Seniors Everywhere (RISE) A National Campaign Against Social Isolation
Loneliness and social isolation are major social, health and quality of life issues for older people. We hear regularly about how our population is aging and how the number of Canadians 65+ will likely double over the next 25 years. What we do not hear about as often is how many older people are isolated and simply rely on a pet or TV for companionship.
In Canada, over a million seniors report they are lonely and do not participate frequently in any social activity. Social isolation can lead to a wide range of health and emotional problems that can eventually force a person to the emergency room. This problem exists everywhere in Canada – from Rankin Inlet to Vancouver to Halifax. With our aging population, the problem will only increase unless more is done to address these issues.
HelpAge’s goal is to help Canadians of all ages, cultures and regions become aware of the possible impact of loneliness and social isolation on their older family members, friends and neighbours – and to take action. Reach Isolated Seniors Everywhere (RISE) is a national campaign that involves partners across the country as well as individual Canadians. One element is a countrywide awareness campaign, inviting Canadians to reach out and connect with an older person.
The Seniors in Need Program
This program provides assistance for seniors in Ottawa who are at risk or in crisis. They may require items such as eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, or a walker to maintain their independence, quality of life and health. In spite of provincial health care programs that may cover a percentage of the cost of some of these items, the balance is often beyond the financial ability of the low-income senior. They either do without, putting themselves at risk, or utilize funds set aside for necessities such as groceries. HelpAge Canada is able to provide financial assistance, topping up funds from other sources, to purchase a service or equipment. This support helps a senior to access a much needed aid or service and increases their quality of life, independence and participation in our community.
How it works:
- Provides small, one-time grants to assist seniors in crisis when the cost of these items and services is beyond their financial ability.
- Referrals to the program come from a social worker or health care professional who represents the senior.
- Funds are paid directly to the equipment or service provider.