Loneliness on the rise for aging Canadians, says advocate

By Adam Inniss

More aging Canadians are struggling with loneliness, says Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge.

CanAge is Canada's largest senior advocacy organization. In 2021 they conducted a study  which showed 1 in 5 older people in Canada don’t have anyone to reach out to even in an emergency.

Watts says recently she has noticed a lot more loneliness among senior Canadians.

“As we age it’s not unusual that close relationships pass before us. But as we’re living longer we’re starting to see people with no connections at all around them. People who never married, never had kids, or immigrated without family. This is really a new situation in Canada.”

Watts says this is causing problems when it comes to seniors getting different services, including from CanAge.

“We often assume that an older person will have someone to help them, but that's not always true.”

Watts wants to see help from the government, mentioning that in the U.K there is a minister of loneliness, who is responsible for ensuring people are able to make those valuable connections in life.

Watts also wants people to make an effort to create valuable friendships and connections while they can.

“Look at your relationships, do you know three people you could hold a conversation with, five people you could chit chat with, and roughly 15 people you can name in your broader network? If your answer is no to those, it’s important to be active and go out there and recruit.”

Watts wants people to try to make friends in different generations, “if you're younger and know older people in your neighbourhood, say hello, check in.”

She says if people are up for it, getting a dog helps you to stay active and meet people in the neighbourhood. 


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