Social Engagement – Module 7

“My mom is alone for most of the week other than my visits. Sometimes it is by choice but other times I think she may be feeling lonely. A friend told me that loneliness can lead to depression. Learning about social engagement has helped me understand where I can offer the most helpful to my mom.”
– A caregiver from London, ON


Introduction

As a caregiver, you may be responsible for planning and preparing social outings and appointments. Depending on a person’s level of frailty, you may be one of the only people they socialize with.

It can be upsetting to see the person you care for alone or unengaged. You might be wondering:

  • How do I know if they are experiencing social isolation, loneliness, or depression?
  • What can I do to increase social engagement?
  • How do I seek out additional supports related to social engagement?

This module may help you answer some of these questions.

The following are definitions of terms that are used throughout this module. Understanding and differentiating between each of these terms can be helpful when communicating with people in your social network, or with health care professionals.  

Social engagement is when a person is involved in meaningful activities with others and is maintaining close, fulfilling relationships.

Social isolation results when a person has very rare contact with others.

Loneliness is a feeling that results from wanting to be connected to other people, but believing that those people and connections are not there.

Depression is the result of feeling sad on a daily basis for two weeks or more. Depression may cause a person to feel helpless, hopeless, and perhaps, like a burden to others.Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • differentiate between social engagement, social isolation, loneliness, and depression
  • recognize isolation, loneliness, and depression in another person
  • identify strategies to support the social engagement of the person in your care
  • review helpful tips on how to communicate effectively with health care professionals about social engagement, social isolation, loneliness, and depression
  • find additional supports related to social engagement

Facts About Social Engagement

Did you know?

  • Depending on the person, social isolation may lead to loneliness.
  • Loneliness may lead to depression, and poor health.
  • Depression is one of the most common mental health issues that impact seniors.
  • As a result of spending the majority of their time providing care to another person, many caregivers may also experience isolation, loneliness, and depression.
  • The topics of social isolation and loneliness do not often come up in conversation with health care professionals.
  • There is help for people who feel isolated, lonely, and depressed.