Making social connections is more important now than ever before. For seniors, it is critical. Often without solid support networks later in life, seniors become vulnerable to mental health issues, loneliness and elder abuse.
“By connecting seniors with seniors, individuals will feel less isolated,” says Judy Scott, Executive Director at Family Services of Central Alberta. “Social connections help reduce the feeling of isolation and improves health and the quality of life.”
According to Statistics Canada, loneliness is a considerable health risk affecting seniors in Canada. Census data shows almost 25 per cent of seniors aged 65 and over live alone with no family or friends.
By making peer connections, FSCA hopes to change this statistic. In addition, by leveraging peer power, local seniors are matched with volunteer mentors who the FSCA will train.
“They are matched by similar interests with mentors who are more active, want to provide companionship, and be a friend,” says Scott. “They can arrange to have tea or coffee with them, take them out (once the pandemic is lifted), or just talk on the phone.”
Seniors who have a solid social network increase their quality of life and their overall health and wellness. In addition, it is shown that those with connections and support are at a lower risk of elder abuse.
Healthy social connections are shown to help seniors prevent disease, have fewer health concerns, improved longevity, and heightened cognitive functions. It also builds self-esteem and gives them a sense of belonging.
“Often, seniors cannot connect with others because of mobility issues, they have no family nearby, or their friends have passed away,” says Scott. “Our peer program will fill an important need in our senior communities.”
The peer mentors and seniors who want to be involved are selected by an advisory board and undergo a screening process.
To become a mentor or to connect with a mentor, you can apply by calling or emailing: