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Social Support to Prevent Isolation in Older Adults

According to a report published by the National Seniors Council, 50% of adults over the age of 80 report feeling lonely.

In individuals, this loneliness can lead to an increase in depression and anxiety, leading to poorer health outcomes of any chronic conditions they may have. There is also an increase in negative health behaviours, such as substance misuse, an inactive lifestyle, and poor diet.

This lack of socialization amongst older adults also puts stressors on our healthcare system. Socially isolated older adults have an increased visit rate to emergency departments and are also at increased risk for elder abuse.

As a result of the pandemic, the isolation that older adults feel has dramatically worsened, due to fears by family members of spreading infection, or fear from older adults of leaving their homes.

However, there are many organizations, including Circle of Care, that offer programming and services that are aimed at providing support and socialization for isolated older adults.

Below, we have included a list of some resources we offer for socially isolated older adults. Some of these programs and services have been modified as a result of the pandemic, but are available for new referrals and current clients:

Resources for Social Support

Phone Pals

Through our Phone Pals program, our specially trained volunteers provide companionship and social contact to older adults through weekly phone calls. Volunteers and clients are carefully matched by common interests and language/culture. The special relationship that can develop between a client and a volunteer enables the client to have greater social interaction to maintain healthy, independent living.

Adult Day Program (In-House and Online)

We recognize that caring for someone living with dementia can be emotionally overwhelming. That’s why our Adult Day Program and other services are designed to help support individuals living with cognitive impairment and also provide essential support for caregivers.

We are currently offering a hybrid model of programming through our Adult Day Program, where we are providing in-house programming for a small number of clients, and online programming via ZOOM for clients with internet access.

iRIDE Transportation Services

Illness or frailty can make everyday tasks such as medical appointments or grocery shopping a challenge. iRide Plus, our government-subsidized transportation service, helps older adults or people with mobility issues get around safely and affordably. Our friendly, trained drivers will drop you off and pick you up in clean, comfortable vehicles.

Meals on Wheels

Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels program is one of the largest meals on wheels programs in Canada, serving Toronto and the southern part of York Region for more than 50 years. Each year, we deliver more than 200,000 meals thanks to the help of over 200 friendly volunteers. We offer delicious and nutritionally balanced meals to meet the needs of our diverse clientele. We offer certified Kosher meals as well as kosher-style meals.

Online Support Groups

We provide group support for individuals and their families, to help guide our clients through challenging and difficult circumstances. Our support groups are offered online through ZOOM. They are run by a social worker, and provide support and guidance free of charge to individuals dealing with grief, facing abuse or feeling depressed. We are also there to guide family caregivers through the challenges of caring for their loved one.

Virtual Exercise Classes

Circle of Care provides free group exercise classes to older adults living in the community. Group Exercise Classes are led by trained fitness professionals. Classes are designed to help participants increase mobility, relieve pain and reduce the risk of falls by building strength and improving balance. Classes are funded by the Central Local Health Integration Network (CLIN), and are offered to eligible participants free of charge.

Virtual Counselling

Our Social Workers offer emotional support and guidance to individuals dealing with grief, facing abuse or feeling depressed. We are also there to guide family caregivers through the challenges of caring for their loved one.