The festive season leading up to Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve is a time for many people to celebrate with family and friends. However, many seniors across the province are socially isolated, which can lead to loneliness and a feeling of being disconnected from others.
That’s why the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) is once again inviting people to give “the gift of time” this month in support of seniors who are either living alone, or are in a care home.
“Each year as the festive season approaches, we hear stories about socially isolated seniors who are distressed knowing that the winter weather conditions will make it difficult to keep connections with family members and companions,” says BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine. “Therefore, all of us should consider giving a small amount of time to make a connection with a senior who spends far too much time on their own. That gift of time can go a long way to brightening the lives of so many.”
Visiting someone is one way to give the gift of time, but even just picking up the phone and calling someone can help a person who is feeling isolated this Christmas season.
Social isolation among seniors has been the subject of prominent public inquiries by agencies such as Canada’s National Seniors Council and the U.S. Senate Aging Committee. A widely-cited study determined that the negative health impact of social isolation is equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day.
Urban and rural communities large and small across North America have struggled with the question of what to do about social isolation among seniors. The British government has appointed a “Minister of Loneliness” due to the health impacts of social isolation.
“Government policy makers already understand the costs of social isolation,” says Fontaine. “Now we need to convince them of the benefit of investing in initiatives that enhance quality of life among seniors.”
The BCCPA has launched its third annual #GiftOfTime campaign across the province in order to raise public awareness of the issue, and urges community members everywhere to take a moment to give the gift of time during the month of December.
Additional information and resources on the subject of social isolation among seniors can be accessed at www.bccare.ca.