Giving the gift of time
by Laurel Cammmaart, Public Health Nurse
For many of us, this summer will be filled with get-togethers and parties, connecting with family and friends. If you are one of the lucky ones you will take part in some of the Canada’s 150 years young events. Think for a moment about someone you know who is not able to join in with the celebrations.
In Chatham-Kent we are fortunate to have twenty one percent of our total population over the age of 65; CK Seniors are 21,455 strong! That equates to about one out of every five Chatham-Kent residents with 65 plus years of knowledge and experience, ability to volunteer and time to help with child care. For many this is a true blessing. Studies show older adults socially connected seem to have a type of protection and experience better health, less disability and later onset of dementia.
While many over 65 have social connections and a sense of purpose, not all of older adults are able to join in and take part. According to data from 2011, more than one quarter of those over the age of 65 in Chatham-Kent live alone. Be aware there is the possibility for some more to become socially isolated and feel lonely. Changes to their life with the loss of a spouse, loved one or best friend, family moving away, health issues, low income, lack of transportation and simply being over the age of 80 are some things that can increase the risk of an older adult becoming isolated. Over time they may develop a fear to leave their home. In this fast paced world they may find it difficult to get and stay connected. As they become less able to participate, they may become uncomfortable around others. Isolation can lead to not eating well, less activity, loss of interest, substance misuse, depression and an increased risk for poor health and injury from having a fall.
As you go about your summer, reconnect with an older adult in your life. Go for a walk, weed a garden, look through old pictures, plan a lunch date or simply stop by for a visit. Pick up the phone and make the call. This summer, as you are thinking about what to bring to the next potluck…..why not bring a senior!
For information on how you can help a senior get connected contact the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519.352.7270 ext. 2456.