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A lot of people struggle with isolation and feelings of loneliness. Seniors in particular are at risk, with 1 in 5 people over the age of 65 reporting that they lack companionship.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most people had an easier time maintaining their social life. The lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic disrupted this, and many people had a hard time reconnecting after lockdowns were lifted. This has been especially impactful to seniors, who often lack a means of transportation and are less familiar with virtual socializing.

Social isolation can be very harmful to your health. Studies show that social isolation and feelings of loneliness can contribute to:

  • Depression
  • Poor sleep habits
  • A weakened immune system
  • Worsened cardiovascular health

Forging connections with people is essential to your health. Forming community is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling; human beings need it. If you’re a senior looking to build new relationships and don’t know where to start, here are some resources that might be helpful for you.

Public Libraries

Libraries are a great place to meet people and make friends. They’re not just for checking out books; most libraries host social events and clubs as well. In Ottawa libraries you can find writing groups, knitting groups and book clubs, among other things. Look at your local library’s website and there will be a section for clubs and events.

Senior Community Centers

Community centers often host events to get people more involved in the community. Senior centers are also designed to be fully accessible. The activities offered usually include card games, exercise programs and congregate meals. Check out your local community center online or by phone to see what they have to offer.


Volunteering is a great way to reduce isolation and meet new people. You don’t need to come away from the experience with a best friend; it’s just nice sometimes to spend a day among people sharing a desire to make the world a better place. A great place to look for opportunities is Volunteer Ottawa, the City of Pembroke and on the Carefor website, where we’re always looking for people to make our clients’ days a bit brighter.

Connect with family and old friends

One of the great things about the internet is it allows you to connect with people from your past. Whether it be through social media sites like Facebook or sites that help you find friends from your school days, there are many ways to find old friends.

Connect online

For those who might be dealing with mobility restrictions or who live far away from family and friends, the internet is a great way to connect with and find new social networks around things that interest you. Connecting online might be intimidating but luckily there are resources available to support you.


Carefor offers several ways for seniors to stay connected. Depending on your location, we have services and programs to choose from that meet different needs. Adult Day Programs for people living with dementia (Ottawa and Eastern Counties), the Companion Program (Pembroke-Renfrew County) and Seniors Group Exercise (Eastern Counties) are all great opportunities to meet new people.

If you cannot access the mentioned services due to a disability, consider checking out OC Transpo’s Para Transpo service or Carefor’s transportation services. Carefor also offers one-on-one social visits that can take place in your own home or over the phone.

Additionally, if you require some extra help around the house with cleaning or personal care, Carefor offers Personal Support and Homemaking Services. These can be more than just some help and can offer social connection.

Finally, Carefor also operates retirement homes in Pembroke and a retirement home for women living with dementia in Richmond in west Ottawa, which allow people who are unable to or choose not to live at home anymore the ability to connect with new friends.

To see which Carefor services are in your area or find more resources, visit our website.

With spring here, it’s a great time to start thinking about developing new habits and routines. Volunteering can be a great way to dive into something new while having a real impact on your community. It’s also an opportunity to make new friends, make good use of your time and challenge yourself. Those who volunteer see many benefits, such as:

Physical Health

Volunteering can be a great way for people over the age of 50 to stay healthy. Research shows that seniors who volunteer see lower rates of physical decline compared to seniors who didn’t volunteer. Getting up and out of the house on a regular basis is good for your body, and volunteering can help you stay active.

Cognitive Health

The same research showed that the benefit wasn’t just to physical health, as cognitive health was also maintained in seniors who volunteered. Volunteering takes some mental effort, especially in planning and organizing. Staying mentally active like this can help maintain mental acuity for longer.

Emotional Health

It feels good to give back. As Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  Often when people retire, they lose a sense of purpose and drive both of which can be maintained through volunteering. What’s all the better is you have the power to choose exactly how you want to help others. It’s also a great way to meet new people and find the joy of connection.

Community Impact

One of the main reasons people choose to volunteer is a desire to give back and help others in their community, and in the process making their community better. Without volunteers, so much of what not for profits do wouldn’t be possible. Whether serving meals or cleaning a park, the impact of your actions will be felt by many.

As an organization that serves thousands of elderly people and those living with disabilities across Eastern Ontario, Carefor is always looking for volunteers to help increase the reach and quality of our programs. We are so blessed with the volunteers that we have but admittedly have struggled to find many after the pandemic.

If you’re curious about how you can volunteer in a way to help make someone’s day brighter whether it be friendly visiting, meal delivery, at our hospice or day programs, go to our website to learn more.

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