Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors

Annex F – Overview of Risk Factors Most Likely to Lead to Social Isolation

Based on responses obtained through the online consultation process, the following tables summarize consulted stakeholders’ views on the risk factors most likely to lead to social isolation of seniors. Please note that this graphical overview is meant to present highlights from the online consultation responses; it is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis. The convenience sample used for this analysis is based on 179 responses. The high non-response rate requires that the data be interpreted with care.

Figure Percentage of respondents who identified the following groups of seniors as “most at risk of becoming socially isolated” text description:
Percentage of respondents who identified the following groups of seniors as “most at risk of becoming socially isolated”
Groups of Seniors Percentage
Seniors living alone 7.62
Frail seniors 7.41
Seniors with mental health issues 6.79
Seniors with disabilities 6.37
Seniors who are victims of elder abuse 6.25
Recently widowed seniors 5.83
Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other related dementia 5.58
Seniors over the age of 85 5.25
Seniors living in rural/remote communities 5.21
New immigrant seniors 4.83
Seniors with chronic diseases 4.71
Senior men 4.54
Seniors with an alcohol and/or drug addiction 4.37
Senior women 4.04
Seniors providing unpaid/informal care to others 3.62
Visible minority seniors 3.08
Seniors who are divorced or separated 2.96
Seniors who have never married (stayed single) 2.75
Lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered seniors 2.71
Aboriginal seniors 2.67
Seniors living in official language minority communities 2.58
Other 0.83

The following tables present a summary of the results from the question “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”. Note: For each group of risk factors, respondents were given the option of indicating “not applicable” if they felt none of the listed factors were determinants of social isolation.

Figure Risk Factors Associated with Access to Information, Programs and Services text description:
Risk Factors Associated with Access to Information, Programs and Services
Factors Percentage
Not applicable 36
Limited or no access to communication related technology (e.g. connectivity to the internet) 25
Limited availability of local programs and services 17
Other (e.g. lack of proficiency in either or both official languages; lack of transportation; information not always communicated in plain language) 14
Not accessing services due to the perceived stigma (e.g. shame, embarrassment) 6
Lack of awareness of programs, services and benefits for seniors 2
Figure Economic Risk Factors text description:
Economic Risk Factors
Factors Percentage
Lack of secure and adequate income or savings to buy goods/services 81
Not applicable 9
Other (e.g. being financially dependent on adult children; precarious immigrant status) 8
Lack of stable employment or attachment to the labour force 2
Figure Family Related Risk Factors text description:
Family Related Risk Factors
Factors Percentage
Reduced social network (e.g. lack of close friends or relatives) 64
Death of a spouse 12
Other (e.g. absence of family living close by or difficulty finding volunteering opportunities) 9
Having no or few children 7
Caregiving for a family member or friend 6
Divorce or separation from a spouse 1
Not applicable 1
Figure Environmental Risk Factors text description:
Environmental Risk Factors
Factors Percentage
Lack of access to transportation such as car or public transit 18
Living alone 16
Lack of access to a range of community services and programs 15
Rural or remote residence 11
Limited availability of local programs and services 11
Other (e.g. relocated away from family or community; victim of abuse by family or friends; over-dependency on a family sponsor for immigration status) 10
High cost of accessing public transportation 7
Inadequate housing 6
Lack of access to social or community involvement such as volunteering 3
Recently relocated to a new community 2
Not applicable 1
Figure Health-Related Risk Factors text description:
Health-Related Risk Factors
Factors Percentage
Low or poor physical mobility (e.g. due to injury or illness) 19
Frailty 17
Chronic health conditions 17
Mental illness (e.g. depression) 11
Other (e.g. hearing loss, incontinence, addictions) 9
Poor (or poorly managed) mental health 9
Having a disability 7
Having Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia 4
Poor oral health, hearing difficulties, or visual impairments 4
Not applicable 3
Figure Literacy and Learning Related Risk Factors text description:
Literacy and Learning Related Risk Factors
Factors Percentage
Inability or limited ability to use technology such as electronic communication devices, navigating the Web and/or social media 38
Low literacy levels, including reading and writing, numeracy and financial literacy 32
Low level of formal education 10
Other (e.g. rural areas do not have reliable internet or phone supports; loss of cognitive abilities; vision or hearing changes) 10
Not applicable 10
Figure Societal Risk Factors text description:
Societal Risk Factors
Factors Percentage
Ageism 38
Issues related to social or cultural integration 17
Elder abuse 13
Lack of knowledge of common language (language barriers) 12
Other (e.g. stigma related to disability and/or hearing loss; fear; racism; sexism) 9
Not applicable 8
Lack of spiritual or religious affiliation 3
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