Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The isolation of seniors

Over the weekend we had a physician friend over for lunch. He had worked on call and was coming straight from the hospital, I thought. Wrong. He had made a couple of stops. To look in on patients who were just too ill to get out in this cold winter weather. One patient was in chronic pain. Both were seniors. I marvelled at his compassion, since this is not something he was expected to do. When I asked him how or what he could do to possibly help them, he casually said “TLC”. We could all use some but they needed it more than most. I thanked him for his compassion. Most are not so lucky. A recent study done in the UK has found that over 1 million seniors have no contact with anyone at all during an average week. I am sure the statistics are similar for Canada. We all know how isolation and mental health are closely linked and how increased ill health and mortality are related to depression. There are a number of programs available that people are not aware of or do not have the means to get to. A close friend’s dad who is over 90 uses his scooter to get to the Senior’s Club most days, unless the weather is really bad. Yes, this country will provide a senior with a scooter to help them with mobility. Some Community/Seniors’ Centres run weekly programs and will pick up folks at their homes. There is always WheelTrans. Even a weekly phone call to check in on a senior helps. All of us know someone who is getting on in years and may be living alone. Let us make the effort to reach out and check in, if not anything else. A little goes a long way.
The problem is particularly acute among immigrant seniors who have further barriers to access due to language. If you know of senior folks who need assistance with interpretation, please let them know about MCIS. We have some funds to offer free services in such situations.