Why is social isolation an important issue?
Loneliness and social isolation are major social, health and quality of life issues for older people. We hear regularly about how our population is aging and how the number of Canadians 65+ will likely double over the next 25 years. But what we don’t hear about as often is how so many older people are isolated and rely on a pet or TV for companionship.
In Canada, over a million seniors report they are lonely and don’t participate frequently in any social activity. This problem exists everywhere in Canada and with our aging population, will only increase unless more is done to address it.
Goal of the RISE campaign
Launched in October 2015, the objective of the RISE campaign is to help Canadians of all ages, cultures and regions become aware of the impact of loneliness and social isolation on their older family members, friends and neighbours – and to take action. It is a national campaign that will involve partners across the country as well as individual Canadians. The goal of RISE is to share information and encourage thousands of concrete actions across the country to help reduce the social isolation and loneliness of our older people.
What is the RISE campaign about?
A.) Organizations launch a Chain Reaction of Initiatives for Isolated Seniors
- Participating organizations across the country commit themselves to a) take specific action against social isolation and b) recruit at least one other participant committed to doing the same
- These participating groups will share innovative practices and take new action with regard to social isolation. Or they may be new stakeholders such as businesses that deal with the public that wish to do their part in raising awareness or addressing social isolation
- This extended chain reaction will benefit an ever growing number of isolated seniors.
B.) Awareness, Education and Action Campaign for Individual Canadians
- A country-wide awareness campaign, inviting Canadians to reach out and connect with an older person
- A focus on two special dates: the third Sunday of February and one nearest to October 31
- Look for social media contests that will provide rewards for initiatives taken
- Download educational tools to explain social isolation and how to help seniors affected by it.
C) Learning from Each Other
- Participating organizations report their progress on the RISE website and RISE social media
- Organizations learn what others are doing and communicate with each other
- HelpAge Canada gathers and distributes information from the HelpAge global network and other organizations working on this issue
- Individuals share their stories and ideas about social isolation and seniors;
- Progress is reported by participants on the RISE website.
What are we working towards?
- A large number of seniors across the country are less isolated;
- Isolated seniors gain access to services and activities;
- Seniors in early stages of isolation are at less risk of seeing their situation worsen;
- The Canadian public is made aware of the problem;
- Communities are more inclined to develop and support initiatives;
- More seniors feel valued and connected to family and friends;
- Initiatives and projects are more efficient and cost effective;
- There is more communication among stakeholders – fewer silos.