A recent survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has found that although Canadians have adjusted to the new "normal" of our post-pandemic world, the country is still experiencing high levels of depression and loneliness. The survey found that 23.7 percent of Canadians surveyed reported feeling lonely occasionally or most of the time.
Global News reports that an Ipsos poll released in the spring pegged the number of Canadians feeling lonely and isolated much higher, at more than half of the population (54 per cent). According to research by Statista, men are experiencing loneliness at higher levels, with 37 per cent of those surveyed reporting feeling lonely as a result of the pandemic.
The impact of social isolation and loneliness on health and well-being, especially for seniors, is in many cases life-threatening. According to Statistics Canada, a Canadian Community Healthy Survey on Healthy Aging tracked men and women who reported feeling socially isolated and found that they faced a higher risk of death over a nine year period than those who did not. "Seniors who felt socially isolated were more likely to report ill health, which in turn increased their risk of death over the following nine years," the report states, adding that this "highlights the importance of seniors returning to their activities and social interactions after the pandemic to avoid long-term social isolation."
While the country remains in a quasi-sate of lockdown, it is critical to battle loneliness and isolation now rather than waiting for the pandemic to end. Here are three tips to help you and your loved ones care for mental health and combat social isolation and loneliness during this time.
1. Consider a homesharing arrangement if you live alone
With the economy in turmoil, many Canadians are looking to downsize or increase their income, and homesharing is a great way to create new income streams. Whether you home share with a family member, friend, neighbour, student, or someone new, it's a wonderful way for anyone who lives alone to safely increase their household bubble.
Homesharing allows you to open your home to a housemate while maintaining your own private space within your home. There are different types of homesharing arrangements depending on your needs and personal goals. Talk to the team at HomeShare Alliance to learn more about how homesharing works.
2. Maintain friendships and social activities with virtual access
Places of worship, gyms and volunteer meetings are all still going on, albeit online. It's important to continue the things you love to do with the people you love to spend time with, even if it means meeting online instead of in person. From book clubs to online game nights, you can still meet with friends and family virtually.
3. Regular outdoor visits
It's relatively safe to meet with friends and family outdoors if maintaining social distance. Plan regular outdoor visits and take advantage of the days when the weather is good to go for a hike or walk at nearby parks and conservation areas (just be sure to check first to see if you need to book a timeslot). The social interaction combined with exercise and time outdoors is sure to boost your mood!
We hope that these three tips will help you get through the winter ahead while staying socially connected, which is critical to help battle loneliness and social isolation. Thinking about home sharing? Give the team at HomeShare Alliance a call. We'd love to share some of the benefits of home sharing with you, explain how it works and help you get started.