Annual Report 2017-2018

Looking ahead, getting ready

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2. Isolation

While isolation among seniors is growing everywhere in Canada and around the world, the scale of the phenomenon, and approaches to dealing with it, are somewhat different for Francophones living in minority settings.

The Canadian Community Health Survey estimates that up to 16% of seniors live in social isolation. Isolation is believed to have a negative impact on health, and this increases the risk of depression, cardiovascular problems and a general decline in quality of life.75

The most significant risk factors for isolation are often associated with living alone, having mental health problems or having a disability. However, being in an official-language minority community is also a recognized risk factor.76, 77

An analysis of health surveys in Canadian communities (2001 to 2009) also revealed that Francophone seniors living in a minority setting are more likely to live in a rural area, with a lower income, a lower level of education and poorer perceived mental health.78 These factors may contribute or combine to cause isolation among Francophone seniors.

Factors that reduce isolation include community support, living in a local community and having access to services and social interaction.79 This public health issue therefore clearly requires action outside of the institutional framework and close alignment of a variety of public, community and private players.

  1. Courtin, Emilie and Knapp, Martin, “Health and Wellbeing Consequences of Social Isolation in Old Age”,National Institute for Health Research, 2014, p. 3.
  2. This report also states that “[translation] So far, there has been scarcely any research on the social isolation of seniors living in official-language communities, and the subject needs further investigation.” (NSC, 2017, p. 16).
  3. National Seniors Council (NSC), Who’s at risk and what can be done about it? A review of the literature on the social isolation of different groups of seniors, Government of Canada, 2017, p. 62.
  4. Bouchard, Louise L. et al, The Health of the Francophone Population Aged 65 and over in Ontario. A region-by-region portrait based on the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Réseau de recherche appliquée sur la santé des francophones de l’Ontario, 2014, p. 48.
  5. Dupuis-Blanchard, Suzanne et al, «Strategies for Aging in Place: The Experience of Language-Minority Seniors With Loss of Independence», Global Qualitative Nursing Research, 2 (2), 2015,

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