Winter is already a trying time for some seniors. COVID-19 will make it worse

Briar Stewart

2014 report by the National Seniors Council concluded that 50 per cent of people over the age of 80 felt lonely. 

With the pandemic grinding on, researchers say those feelings have been heightened, which is why advocates and social service agencies are trying to find additional ways to connect with those who feel cut off. 

Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, chair of the National Seniors Council and director of the Research Centre on Aging at the University of Moncton, said winter is already a stressful time as outings are limited. 

This year, the cold weather will arrive after many have already spent months isolating. 

As part of her research through the university, Dupuis-Blanchard has been surveying seniors who live in the community and says many feel they've been forgotten. 

Health effects of isolation

"A lot of attention has been put on seniors in long-term care, with reason, but there are also these groups of seniors in the community who are dependent on formal and informal care for which the pandemic has had quite an impact as well," she said. 

She said seniors who are living alone and socially disconnected are particularly vulnerable to having their mental and physical health decline. 

They are less likely to be physically active and more likely to have a poor diet, which Dupuis-Blanchard said can lead to cardiovascular problems or a higher risk of falling. 

Del Casino used to enjoy daily outings, including swimming. 

Now if the weather and her arthritis aren't too bad, she will go for a walk around the neighbourhood. She spends the rest of her time knitting and watching more television than she ever has before.

With her family living on Vancouver Island, Del Casino signed up to receive a daily telephone call from the Seniors Services Society of B.C. and the occasional grocery delivery.

She said the conversations are a bright spot in her morning, but aren't the same as meeting up with someone in person. 


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