Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors

Annex E – Online Consultation Questionnaire

National Seniors Council Online Consultation (2013-2014): Social Isolation of Seniors

Introduction

The focus of this consultation is on understanding how social isolation affects seniors and exploring ways to help prevent and/or reduce the social isolation of seniors in Canada.

The Government of Canada is committed to improving the well-being of seniors.

The National Seniors Council was created in 2007 to advise the Minister of Employment and Social Development, the Honourable Jason Kenney, and the Minister of Health, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, including opportunities and challenges arising from a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse aging population. The NSC is directed on a day-to-day basis in its work by the Minister of State (Seniors), the Honourable Alice Wong.

The NSC is currently seeking the views of individuals from the not-for-profit, public and private sectors to assess how social isolation affects seniors and explore ways to prevent and/or reduce the social isolation of seniors in Canada.

Demographic Information

This first section gathers some basic demographic information that will be used to help organize and better interpret the findings from the online consultation process.

Please select your province or territory of residence.

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Saskatchewan
  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Yukon
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut

Please indicate which of the following best describes you or the organization you represent. (Please select all that apply.):

  • Academic/Research
  • Community Organization
  • Government
  • Healthcare Professional
  • Living/Working in rural/remote area
  • Living/Working in urban/suburban area
  • National Organization
  • Provincial/Territorial Organization
  • Private Company/Enterprise
  • Service/Information Provider
  • Volunteer
  • Other (please specify)

Please provide your name and/or your organization’s name if you would like to be identified in the National Seniors Council’s final report.

First name: Last name: Organization:

Does your organization provide specific support to seniors who are socially isolated or at risk of becoming socially isolated?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable

Please describe the type of supports being offered and to whom these are being offered. (Limit of 250 words)

Have you or your organization conducted or participated in any research, programming, projects or initiatives related to the topic of this consultation?

  • Yes
  • No Please explain / describe. (Limit of 250 words)

Section 1: Risk Factors

In Canada, it has been estimated that 30% of Canada’s seniors are at risk of social isolation. There are a variety of risk factors that increase the chances of seniors becoming socially isolated. The greater the number of risk factors, the greater the likelihood of a senior being socially isolated. These risk factors may be more episodic in nature, such as losing one’s driver's license or the death of a spouse, or more enduring, such as a mental illness. The consequences and risk factors associated with social isolation are difficult to separate, which can result in self-reinforcing patterns of social isolation.

In your experience, which groups of seniors are most at risk of becoming socially isolated? Please select all that apply.

  • Aboriginal seniors
  • Frail seniors
  • Lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered seniors
  • New immigrant seniors
  • Recently widowed seniors
  • Senior men
  • Senior women
  • Seniors from official language minority communities
  • Seniors living alone
  • Seniors living in rural or remote communities
  • Seniors over the age of 85
  • Seniors providing unpaid/informal care to others (caregivers)
  • Seniors who are divorced or separated from their spouse
  • Seniors who are victims of elder abuse
  • Seniors who have never married/stayed single throughout their lives
  • Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other related dementia
  • Seniors with an alcohol and/or drug addiction
  • Seniors with chronic diseases
  • Seniors with disabilities
  • Seniors with mental health issues (including cognitive impairment/dementia)
  • Visible minority seniors
  • Other (please specify)

Based on your experience, please select, for each of the following groups of risk factors, the factor that is most likely to lead to social isolation.

Access to Information, Programs and Services

  • Lack of awareness of programs, services and benefits for seniors
  • Limited availability of local programs and services
  • Limited or no access to communication related technology (e.g. connectivity to the internet)
  • Not accessing services due to the perceived stigma (e.g. shame, embarrassment)
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Economic

  • Lack of secure and adequate income or savings to buy goods/services
  • Lack of stable employment or attachment to the labour force
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Environmental

  • High cost of accessing public transportation
  • Inadequate housing
  • Lack of access to a range of community services and programs
  • Lack of access to social or community involvement such as volunteering
  • Lack of access to transportation such as a car or public transit
  • Limited availability of local programs and services
  • Living alone
  • Living in a noisy, polluted, or otherwise unsafe neighbourhood/community
  • Recently relocated to a new community
  • Rural or remote residence
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Family-Related

  • Caregiving for a family member or friend
  • Death of a spouse
  • Divorce or separation from a spouse
  • Having no or few children
  • Reduced social network (e.g. lack of close friends or relatives)
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Health-Related

  • Chronic health conditions
  • Frailty
  • Having Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia
  • Having a disability
  • Low or poor physical mobility (e.g. due to injury or illness)
  • Mental illness (e.g. depression)
  • Poor (or poorly managed) mental health
  • Poor oral health, hearing difficulties, or visual impairment
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Literacy and Learning-Related

  • Inability or limited ability to use technology such as electronic communication devices, navigating the Web and/or social media
  • Low level of formal education
  • Low literacy levels, including reading and writing, numeracy and financial literacy
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Societal

  • Ageism
  • Elder abuse
  • Issues related to social or cultural integration
  • Lack of knowledge of common language (language barriers)
  • Lack of spiritual or religious affiliation
  • Other, please specify ________________________
  • Not Applicable

Section 2: Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues may increase the risk of seniors becoming socially isolated and, inversely social isolation can contribute to mental health issues. The following questions will help determine the links between mental health issues and social isolation.

In what ways do seniors' mental health issues contribute to social isolation? Please give examples (limit of 250 words).

In what ways does social isolation contribute to seniors’ mental health issues? Please give examples (limit of 250 words).

What actions are being taken to address the mental health needs of seniors who are or may be at risk of becoming socially isolated? Please share examples of notable services, benefits, programs, activities or other initiatives being offered at the federal, provincial/territorial, community or individual level (limit of 250 words).

What actions are being taken to promote positive mental health for seniors who are or may be at risk of becoming socially isolated? Please share examples of notable services, benefits, programs, activities or other initiatives being offered at the federal, provincial/territorial, community or individual level (limit of 250 words).

What more could be done to help address the mental health needs of seniors who are or may be at risk of becoming socially isolated (limit of 250 words)?

What more could be done to promote positive mental health for seniors who are or may be at risk of becoming socially isolated (limit of 250 words)?

Section 3: How is Social Isolation of Seniors Being Addressed?

There are currently a number of initiatives to help alleviate and prevent the social isolation of seniors. In this section, please share examples of notable services, benefits, programs, activities or other initiatives being offered at the federal, provincial/territorial, community or individual level that are currently making a difference in seniors’ lives and helping to alleviate or prevent the social isolation of seniors. Where possible, please provide examples of innovative practices – processes that involve novel applications (or recombination) of existing ideas or approaches – including projects that are sustainable, that leverage existing resources, and/or involve cross-sector partnerships.

What is being done to help prevent the social isolation of seniors? Please provide examples (limit of 250 words).

What is being done to help address (reduce/alleviate) the social isolation of seniors? Please provide examples (limit of 250 words).

Section 4: What Could be Done about the Social Isolation of Seniors?

The issue of seniors’ social isolation is of relevance to individuals as well as the not-for-profit, private and public sectors. In this section, we ask you to consider what the federal government, potentially in partnership with other sectors and levels of government, can do to help alleviate and prevent the social isolation of seniors.

What could current and future generations of seniors do to help protect themselves from becoming socially isolated (limit of 250 words)?

What innovative actions could be taken to help prevent the social isolation of seniors in Canada (limit of 250 words)?

What innovative actions could be taken to help address the current needs of socially isolated seniors in Canada (limit of 250 words)?

Thank you for participating in the National Seniors Council’s online consultation!

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