Elegy to Loneliness: a story of loneliness among older adults.
During my short stay in Canada, I stayed with an old lady. She has divorced for years and has two daughters of middle age who live in different city. For an old lady, she’s very active and energetic. She always finds herself busy or having to do other things. But when the night comes or when her daughters don’t visit her on a weekend, I often found her sitting alone in quiet thought late at night.
Few years ago she had cancer. As she lives by herself, she has to fight the cancer alone, schedule her appointment with the doctor alone, and even if she has to be hospitalized, no families around to support her.
My experience has inspired me to find out more about loneliness among seniors / older adults in Canada. New research in Canada is showing that elderly population is growing increasingly lonely and isolated. As spouses and close friends pass away, and children grow and have their own lives to manage, many older Canadians are finding themselves painfully lonely. According to Statistics Canada, as many as 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely, but knowledge and data on the effects of loneliness and social isolation on Canada’s senior population is limited.
Loneliness and lonely seniors are a serious public health issue and it is a significant predictor of depression and poor health among elderly Canadians. The most emerging issue seniors are facing is finding means to become, or remain, socially included and connected to their community. Loneliness itself doesn’t directly cause health problems, but depression, desperation, feeling unappreciated and unwanted can cause seniors to neglect their health or resort to unhealthy behaviour.