Loneliness, Social Isolation and Elder Abuse
Canada’s senior population, particularly older seniors (those 80 plus), are increasingly reporting feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Considered to be a growing epidemic, this can lead to physical and mental health issues and numerous studies have even linked it to an increased risk of elder abuse.
Defined as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person,” elder abuse can take place in a variety of ways including physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, and neglect.
According to government-funded services such as the Peel Elder Abuse Network (PEAPN) and Family Services of Peel, 10 percent of seniors are abused, but it is believed that number could be higher as many incidences go unreported. This is because seniors are embarrassed or ashamed of the way they are being treated, especially if it is at the hands of family members. These seniors live in fear due to intimidation and bullying behaviour, most often brought on by their adult children or a trusted family member.
Numerous research studies have concluded that isolation leads to vulnerability. When an individual becomes socially isolated they lack the very support they need that can give them strength, knowledge and even the know-how to fight against abuse. Experts liken this to an abusive relationship where the abuser isolates the victim until they have nowhere to turn, leading the victim to believe there is no escape.
At Amintro, we want you to know that there are always alternatives. No one should live in fear, and no one should feel as though they have nothing to offer. Every person, no matter their age, brings value to the community.
If social isolation and feelings of loneliness can increase the risk of abuse, then socializing and friendships can reduce this risk. Try joining a community group, reach out to your neighbours, and engage in social activities. Studies suggest that weekly social interactions greatly reduce the risk of loneliness and isolation, however, even once a month will make an impact.
If you are feeling isolated or if you know someone that you suspect is lonely or could be dealing with abuse at home, reach out – to a friend, other family members, a neighbour, your church, local community centers, or the police.
If you are 50 plus and looking to make new friends, expand your social circles and fill your social calendar, Amintro offers the perfect opportunity. Membership is free, allowing you to get socializing, chatting, laughing and spending time out of the house with good company. There are numerous benefits to be had… and remember, if isolation = vulnerability, then socialization = strength. Stay strong with good friends.
By Christine Tompa