Red Deer College and the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre have partnered to address social isolation among older men.
The college is looking for men, age 55 and older, to take a 30-minute survey to help identify factors that contribute to loneliness.
Golden Circle board member Glenn Allen said there’s been a lack of research into why men don’t get involved in the community. Golden Circle found that only about 25 per cent of its members are men, as have other community groups.
“Our doctors are saying it’s the equivalent, this isolation, to seven years of smoking. It takes that much off your life if you’re not engaging with other people,” Allen said.
He said Golden Circle surveyed its members last year to find out what kinds of programs men would like to see.
Meetings were held also last month that attracted 170 members who provided activity and program ideas.
As a result, discussion groups called Man Talks, will run from 1 to 2:30 p.m., with different topics each month. The first Man Talks, about compassion, will be held Feb. 28. Man Talks will be held on the fourth Thursday of the month until June. Other activities are also planned.
RDC psychology instructor Greg Wells said the college’s survey, which has gone out to several community groups, will show whether current initiatives are addressing factors leading to loneliness.
“Different age groups have different contributors to loneliness. Young adults often talk about social media and how it contributes. For older adults, there are losses — relationship losses of spouse and friends, occupational identity losses, physical health changes, perhaps cognitive changes, ageism,” Wells said.
Men do not have to be experiencing loneliness to participate in the Loneliness in Older Men survey available at https://form.simplesurvey.com/f/l/loneliness. Paper copies are also available at the Golden Circle’s front desk. The deadline to complete the survey is March 15.
Student researcher Jacqueline Starcheski and Wells are available to answer any questions about the study. They can be contacted by email at Jacqueline.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com