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Older Canadians feel more isolated due to high inflation

With inflation at nearly 40-year highs, Canadians are feeling the economic strain. The Canadian Press interviews people in different stages of life in his six-part series this summer to find out where they're hit hardest. The final installment of this series details how rising inflation is affecting older people.

Azim Jeraj canceled his gym membership earlier this year.

Sherwood, Alta He is a 69-year-old resident of the Park. With the cost of his groceries, utilities and prescription drugs rising, he said he could no longer justify the monthly fee.

Read more: Inflation fell to his 7.6% in July. What does that mean for the Bank of Canada?

"I joined a senior cycling group instead. I go cycling with them twice a week and it doesn't cost me anything," Jeraj said. You find doing things like that, always looking for things that don't cost a lot of money."

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Today, like all other age groups, Canada's seniors are faced with tough choices, cutting out the superfluous and the nice to have. We are facing almost 40 years of high inflation.

But older people also face their own less-discussed challenges. Experts say high inflation often results in increased social isolation.

Older adults facing severe isolation in long-term care homes – 13 January 2022

According to Statistics Canada , 27.9% of older Canadians lived alone in 2017-18, compared with 14% of the general population.

Doctors know that maintaining relationships and staying socially active play an important role in the mental and physical health of this age group. social isolation is associated with increased emotional distress and prevalence of depression, more falls, access to health and support services, and even premature death.

But even just meeting friends for coffee, driving to church, or taking the bus to fitness classes can cost money.

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"People don't think social isolation is tied to the cost of inflation. What immediately comes to mind is that people won't be able to buy food, buy housing or take medicine," said the CEO of CanAge, a national advocacy group for the elderly. One Laura Tamblyn Watts said: “But you have to connect somehow, and there is a connection cost.”

Read More: Falling gas prices Inflation in Canada is expected to fall. But will it last?

Many older Canadians live on fixed pensions or rely on government benefits such as the Canada Pension Plan, which are adjusted annually for inflation each January. have not kept up with modern pension systems because they are A dizzying rise in the cost of living.

Seniors are also worried about their investment portfolios as inflation weighs heavily on the stock market. And for those who have relied on housing stocks to support their retirement, rising interest rates and their impact on the housing market are a real concern.

“Many of the seniors we see are in crisis _ their investments and pensions are not going up. Their government benefits may eventually go up. But for now they're waiting in a vague state, and prices are on the rise, said Larry Matheson, chief executive of the Kirby Center, a nonprofit that provides programs and services to seniors in Calgary and Medicine Hat. He said: “This is a big problem.”

Explaining shrinkflation and its impact on purchasing power

The crisis is already felt for Dorothy Bagan, who lives alone in her own home in Calgary. She's canceled her cell phone, refrained from watching cable her TV, and continues to use a carefully curated list when shopping for groceries.

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She also does not own a car, is an avid public transport user, and is a community member of her community. Although she is also a volunteer for , her social life is narrowed.

"For obvious reasons, my circle of friends has dwindled. I'm 74," Bagan said. "And the two close friends I have had difficulty seeing each other because only one of the two was still driving."

In fact, Bagan said he recently decided to go back to work part-time - not because of the money, but because it's an added perk, but because he needs to get out of the house. I love engaging and interacting with people...I love being out and part of things," she said. "I'm still useful. Being a senior doesn't mean I can't contribute."

Isolation and loneliness in long-term care residents due to limited social interaction – 4 January 2022

Social isolation is the "downflow effect of inflation," said Tamblyn Watts. If a senior can't afford internet access, she can't connect with her family via Zoom or her FaceTime. If you can't afford hearing aids or eyeglasses, your ability to interact with the world is diminished. And when younger generations are busy spending extra hours at work to cope with their rising cost of living, they have more time to check on their mothers and fathers, or visit grandparents who are nursing them. less likely to be squeezed. House.

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"There will be more people living alone at home, without support and lonely," says Tamblyn. Watts said.

Details: Inflation in Canada soared 40 years before her. Is today's price spike different?

Jeraj says he feels lucky. He is married and still drives, and he and his wife try to stay active and connected through low-cost activities such as going on long walks and entertaining friends at home.

But he knows that many of his colleagues are not so lucky.

"I have relatives who live alone, the cost of which is a big issue, even mobility as I cannot drive due to my age and health," Jeraj said.

``Social isolation is a huge problem.