Increased loneliness among older people is a side effect of inflation

Calgary –

With inflation at its highest level in nearly 40 years, Canadians are feeling the financial strain. In his six-part series this summer, The Canadian Press explores the places that hit the hardest for people at different stages of life. The final installment of this series details how rising inflation is affecting older people.


Azim Jeraj canceled his gym membership earlier this year.

A 69-year-old resident of Sherwood Park, Alta. With the cost of groceries, utilities and prescription drugs rising, he said he could no longer justify the monthly fee.

“Instead, I joined an elderly cycling group. I go cycling with them twice a week, and it doesn’t cost anything,” says Jeraj. “Find things to do. I’m always looking for things that don’t cost a lot of money.”

Now, like all other age demographics, Canada’s seniors are facing a tough choice in the face of nearly 40 years of high inflation and cutting back on the no-frills and the nice-to-haves. .

But older people also face unique challenges that are less talked about. Experts say high inflation often results in increased social isolation.

According to Statistics Canada, 27.9% of older Canadians lived alone in 2017-18, compared with 14% of the general population.

Doctors know that maintaining relationships and staying socially active play an important role in the mental and physical health of this age group. It leads to increased emotional distress and prevalence of depression, more falls, access to health and support services, and even premature death.

But even just meeting friends for coffee, driving to church, or taking the bus to fitness classes can cost money.

“People don’t think social isolation is tied to the cost of inflation. It means that you will not be able to do it, ”National Elderly Advocacy Group. “But it has to be connected somehow, and there is a connection cost.”

Many older Canadians live on fixed pensions or rely on government benefits such as the Canada Pension Plan, which is adjusted for inflation annually in January, but are struggling to keep up with the recent dizzying cost of living. Is not …

Seniors are also worried about their investment portfolios as inflation weighs heavily on the stock market. And for those who have relied on housing stocks to support their retirement lives, rising interest rates and their impact on the housing market are a serious concern.

“Many of the seniors we see are in crisis. Their investments and pensions are not going up. Government benefits may eventually go up, but for now they are The vague wait and the price of everything is going up, said Larry Matheson, chief executive of the Kirby Center, a nonprofit that provides programs and services to seniors in Calgary and Medicine Hat. “This is a big problem.”

For Dorothy Bagan, who lives alone in her Calgary home, the crisis is already felt. She has canceled her cell phone, reduced her TV viewing from cable, and continues to use a carefully curated list when shopping for groceries.

She also doesn’t own a car and is an avid public transport user and community volunteer, but her social life is narrow.

“My circle of friends has dwindled for obvious reasons. I’m 74,” Bagan said.

In fact, Bagan recently said he decided to go back to work part-time. It’s not for the money, it’s an added perk, but because it requires you to get out of the house.

“I love engaging and interacting with people…I love being out and part of things,” she said. Just because she’s a senior doesn’t mean she can’t contribute anything. ”

Tamblyn Watts said social isolation is part of the “downflow effect of inflation”. If seniors can’t afford internet access, they can’t connect with their families via Zoom or FaceTime. If you can’t afford hearing aids or eyeglasses, your ability to interact with the world is diminished. And when younger generations are busy spending extra hours at work to cope with their rising cost of living, they may find time to check on their mothers and fathers or visit grandparents who are nursing their grandparents. less likely to be squeezed. House.

“There will be more people living alone at home, without support, and lonely,” said Tamblyn Watts.

Gerard said he feels lucky. He is married and still drives, and he and his wife try to stay active and connected through low-cost activities such as going on long walks and entertaining friends at home. I am making a conscious effort.

However, he knows that many of his peers are not so lucky.

“I have relatives who live alone and the cost is a big issue. Even mobility because they cannot drive due to their age and health,” said Jeraj.

“Social isolation is a really big problem. It affects me a lot psychologically.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 17, 2022.

Increased loneliness among older people is a side effect of inflation

Source link Increased loneliness among older people is a side effect of inflation

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