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Loneliness in older people: How to break the cycle of isolation

Published on December 19, 2022 at 15:55

Many seniors live alone and are therefore prone to loneliness. As people age, their families become smaller, and the opportunities to meet new people become fewer. Making new friends is more difficult than before. Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Grands-Parents, suggests a few solutions to explore in order to keep you active and break the cycle of isolation.

Risk factors

First, it is important to be aware of the major factors that contribute to social isolation among older adults, such as:

  • Living alone
  • Being 80 years of age or older
  • Having health problems
  • Having no children or contact with family
  • Receive a modest income
  • Etc.

In addition, certain transitions that take place over the course of a lifetime are likely to increase older adults' feelings of loneliness, including:

  • Retirement
  • Withdrawal of the driver's license
  • The death of a spouse
  • The move to a retirement home
  • Etc.

Fortunately, there are many ways to counteract loneliness. Here are some of them!

The bonds of friendship

Reaching out to people by choosing fun activities helps fill the empty hours of the day—all while creating new friendships!


Volunteering allows seniors to continue to feel useful to society by contributing their knowledge and experience. It is a great way to work as a team and develop friendships.

Continuing education

Schools and municipalities have many continuing education opportunities for seniors, both in person and online classes. What a wonderful opportunity to meet people with common interests and start great discussions!

Physical activity

Whether it's with a family member, a former colleague, long-time friends, or people you met at a group class, getting active allows you to socialize and get out of the house. In addition, physical activity helps maintain good physical and mental health. It even improves and alleviates some symptoms related to known health problems.

Free time

Retired seniors are able to set their own schedule, giving them the opportunity and time to pursue their favourite activities.


Sometimes, certain hobbies have been abandoned along the way in favour of work, family and children. When you reach a certain age, it's the perfect time to rediscover some of your passions or try new things, and who knows, discover new interests! Think: puzzles, reading, golf, photography, gardening, origami, etc.


Perhaps you had put some projects on hold in previous years, due to lack of time and availability. Now that your daily routine is less hectic, you can now put your projects into action!

Pet therapy

The power of animals on health is often underestimated. Many studies show that caring for or simply cuddling an animal has many benefits, especially for seniors, such as reduced stress and anxiety. If you love animals, make them your priority!

Loss of autonomy

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes! Preparing for future constraints is a good plan of action. For example, if you have to have surgery, plan for home help during your recovery. Before you really need it, visit retirement homes to give yourself enough time to choose the one that suits you best.

Mental health and support resources

Lack of social interaction can take a toll on morale, regardless of age. In addition, the social isolation of older adults puts them at risk for harmful behaviours, such as alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Not to mention that it contributes to a sedentary lifestyle and, sometimes, to poor nutrition. In the long term, these behaviours greatly affect mental and physical health.

Many resources are available to help seniors, and it is to your advantage to use them. A guide, produced by the Government of Québec, provides access to a complete directory of government services and programs for seniors.

Check out the Programs and Services for Seniors Guide, 2022 Edition, to see what you can benefit from.

Never hesitate to ask your healthcare professional to direct you to the right resources!

Enjoy this vibrant time in your life!

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