Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Loneliness and isolation. Have you called an elderly friend or family member today?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I have written about the cultural epidemic of loneliness and isolation and I have explained how loneliness and isolation leads to a higher level of deaths by euthanasia (MAiD). Now that Ontario, and other jurisdictions, have moved back to being "locked-down," will we experience more depression and hopelessness based on cultural loneliness?

CTV medical correspondant, Avis Favaro, reported on a group of teenagers from the Upper Canada College, Bishop Strachan School, Havergal and Bayview Glen who are participating in a virtual pen pal program. Favaro reports:
The program, called Pandemic Pals or Pan Pals for short, has students connect with seniors in long-term care homes via phone and Zoom calls in an effort to combat loneliness brought on by lockdowns in the province.
Pan Pal Sam Shulman states:
“We thought about seniors in long-term care homes who are missing out on this time with their children, their grandchildren their great grandchildren, along with this all encompassing fear of the unknown virus,”

“So we wanted to bring joy to seniors during these trying times,”
Pan Pal Apostolos Zezos points out that many of the seniors have not spoken to anyone in weeks or months.

Long term care resident Irena Caranica told Favaro what the program means to her.
“Like I was talking to a very good friend from my youth. That's how nice it was. I was waiting every week for him to call me so I can talk to him,”
Pan Pal Shulman said:
“Seniors are obviously much older than we are, but we're all humans, and we're all similar and it's another person to talk to you, it's another person to share how our day was… and that relationship kind of transcends age,”
Pan Pal Kate Fitzpatrick recognized how the program has helped with mental health for the seniors who have participated while Pan Pal Justin Lee recognized that loneliness and isolation for seniors is not a new problem. Lee said:
“Senior loneliness isn't something that became real because of a pandemic, it was something that exists before. It just got amplified because of the pandemic. So I think this idea of connection, interaction and building bonds definitely should continue after the pandemic,”

“If I can bring light to someone's day, I really want to take that opportunity,”
Compassionate Community Care provides a training program for visiting and communicating with Seniors and others who live with social isolation.

Contact Compassionate Community Care at: info@beingwith.org

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