Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds

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Age-Friendly Communities

(Chapter 6 by Verena Menec, Jim Hamilton, and Sheila Novek)

Relevant Readings

Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors (2007). Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide. Ottawa, ON: Public Health Agency of Canada, Division of Aging and Seniors. https://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/alt-formats/pdf/publications/public/healthy-sante/age_friendly_rural/AFRRC_en.pdf

This report summarizes the findings of the Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities project that was conducted with 10 rural and remote communities in Canada. The project ran in parallel with the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities project and used the same focus group method to identify features that make rural and remote communities age-friendly.

Linkages Reading List: Age-Friendly Communities. (2020). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Age-Friendly-Communities.pdf

Topics include health care utilization, an ecosystem model, policy perspectives, and the sustainability of impact.

World Health Organization (2007). Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide. Geneva: World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/ageing/publications/Global_age_friendly_cities_Guide_English.pdf

This report presents the findings of the focus groups conducted in 33 cities around the world as part of the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities project. It provides many examples of what features make a city age-friendly, as well as barriers to age-friendliness. The report also has a Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities. The checklist summarizes key age-friendly features in each of the eight age-friendly domains.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Age-Friendly Communities, Public Health Agency of Canada


This website provides resources to help communities in Canada become more age-friendly; for example, it describes the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Milestones and the Age-Friendly Community Implementation Guide. It also has links to provincial websites that describe age-friendly initiatives in the provinces.

Ontario Age-Friendly Communities (AFC) Outreach Program


The AFC Outreach Program builds on and complements Ontario's AFC Planning Guide and the AFC Planning Grant Program. The program aims to raise awareness about AFCs, facilitate connectedness within and between communities, and increase the capacity for local planning and implementation of age-friendly initiatives. The AFC Outreach Program helps communities increase awareness of age-friendly planning principles, share best practices, and start, continue, evaluate, and improve on their AFC action plans. The AFC Outreach Program is managed by the Centre for Studies in Aging and Health in partnership with Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo.

WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities


The WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities was established in 2010 to connect cities, communities, and organizations worldwide with the common vision of making their community a great place to grow old in. On this website you can find all of the cities and communities that are members of the Network: in 2020 there were 1,114 cities and communities in 44 countries, covering over 262 million people worldwide. There is also a data base of age-friendly community practices and programs with contacts for each one.

Relevant Videos

Healthy Families BC. (2012, November 23). Age-friendly BC. YouTube. (37 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpWfr1YOF70

Seniors, government staff, and representatives talking about their age-friendly community and engagement. Full video series can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/about-seniorsbc/seniors-related-initiatives/age-friendly-bc/ideas-in-action?bcgovtm=2free

Housing in Later Life

(Chapter 7 by Suzanne Garon, Samuèle Rémillard-Boilard, Mario Paris, François Racicot-Lanoue, and Christyne Lavoie)

Relevant Readings

Bevan, M., & Croucher, K. (2011). Lifetime Neighbourhoods. London: Department for Communities and Local Government. https://www.york.ac.uk/media/chp/documents/2011/lifetimeneighbourhoods.pdf

This publication explores and develops the idea of a “lifetime neighbourhood,” presents examples of how the idea has been taken forward in different parts of the country.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (2021). Senior households in core housing need: A comparison between urban and rural areas in Canada. https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/professionals/housing-markets-data-and-research/housing-research/research-reports/housing-needs/senior-households-core-housing-need

This research uses data from censuses 2011 and 2016 to compare the housing situations of senior households living in urban areas to those living in rural areas. Overall, urban senior residences had a higher incidence of core housing need than rural senior households. Urban senior households experienced more affordability problems and rural senior households were much more likely to live in housing needing major repairs.

Council on Aging of Ottawa. (2021). Housing Options in Ottawa: A Guide for Older Adults. https://coaottawa.ca/housing-options-in-ottawa/

This is an example of a locally produced housing guide for older adults. It discusses innovative housing options and contains material that is relevant in all communities, including the Age-Friendly Housing Search Checklist, which helps older adults make informed decisions about where they want to live now and in the future by asking questions related to the 4 As of housing options: affordability, accessibility, appropriateness, and availability.

Employment and Social Development Canada (2019). Report on housing needs of seniors. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/report-seniors-housing-needs.html

This report provides an overview of seniors’ housing needs in Canada. It also presents a number of Canadian and international initiatives that help address these needs.

Office of the Seniors Advocate BC. (2015). Seniors’ Housing in B.C. https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2015/09/SeniorsHousingReport.pdf

This report discusses a number of housing priorities facing older adults living in British Columbia.

Oswald, F., & Wahl, H. (2005). Dimensions of the meaning of home in later life. In G. D. Rowles & H. Chaudhury (Eds.). Home and Identity in Late Life - International Perspectives (pp. 21–45). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

This chapter: clarifies basic issues such as the relationship of house and home, and the need to understand the meaning of home within a life-span developmental context; reviews and synthesizes major conceptualizations of meaning of home in old age which have been suggested in environmental psychology and environmental gerontology; and presents the authors’ empirical findings concerned with the meaning of home in old age.

Oswald, F., & Wahl, H. (2019). Physical contexts and behavioural aging. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.399

This chapter investigates how older adults’ relationship with place is interlinked with life course transitions and old-age social exclusion based on case studies from three different European countries drawing on the concepts of spatial agency and belonging by examining how spatial agency and belonging can protect and empower older people at critical junctures in their lives.

Rowles, G. D., & Bernard, M. (2013). Environmental gerontology. New York: Springer.

This book provides an up-to-date synthesis of the latest research on the meaning of place to older people and its relationship to well-being; offers fresh insight and critical perspectives on community planning and environmental design; considers private residences, retirement communities, long-term care facilities, and public and private community spaces; includes guiding principles for environmental design and practice relevant to the documented needs of older people; and synthesizes contributions from international scholars in many disciplines.

Statistics Canada. (n.d.). Living arrangements of seniors. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-312-x/98-312-x2011003_4-eng.cfm

This report provides information on the living arrangements of older adults in Canada.

Stephens, C., et al. (2019). Livable Environments and the Quality of Life of Older People: An Ecological Perspective, The Gerontologist, 59, (4), 675–685. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gny043

The findings in this study support the importance of material and social provisions of housing and neighbourhoods to quality of life among older people. The ecological model highlights critical information provided by taking different levels of the environment and personal circumstances into account. The concept of “livability,” focusing on perceptions of the environment, can assist a shift from seeking the universal ideal neighbourhood toward understanding the ways in which different communities may achieve quality of housing and neighbourhood facilities that meet community members’ needs.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2020). World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights: Living Arrangements of Older Persons. Uniter Nations. https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/undesa_pd-2020_world_population_ageing_highlights.pdf

Understanding the interconnections between the living arrangements of older persons and their health and well-being has particular relevance in light of the pledge made by Governments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that no one will be left behind. How and with whom older people reside has important implications for the Goals related to ending poverty in all its forms everywhere (SDG 1), ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages (SDG 3), and achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls (SDG 5). Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the older population will require continued efforts by the international community to curb the spread of the virus—in particular, in older persons with pre-existing conditions or who reside in institutions.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Abbeyfield Housing in Canada


This website provides access to information about Abbeyfield Housing, a housing project that provides accommodation and companionship for lonely older people in their own community.

Canadian Cohousing Network


This website provides information on cohousing for older people

Canadian Mental Health Association


This website provides reports and surveys related to seniors housing and other issues.

Canada Mortgage and Housing


This website provides comprehensive information on all aspects of housing for older adults in Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada


This website provides information on housing needs and options for older adults

Relevant Videos and Podcasts

The Agenda with Steve Paikin. (2019). The Right Homes for Seniors. Television Ontario (TVO). (21 minutes). https://www.tvo.org/video/the-right-homes-for-seniors

An expert panel discusses the issue of appropriate housing for seniors and the lack of options and affordable stock that allows them to downsize.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin. (2019). Shared Housing: Affordable Living for Seniors. Television Ontario (TVO). (21 minutes). https://www.tvo.org/video/shared-housing-affordable-living-for-seniors

Steve Paiken speaks with Pat Dunn, who started a Facebook group, “Senior Ladies Living Together,” that connects potential roommates to save on rental costs and alleviate loneliness, and Louise Bardswich, part of a group called the “Golden Girls of Port Perry,” who recently invested in a shared home.

Global News. (2019, January 8). Ground-breaking seniors’ co-housing project in Saskatoon focuses on community living. (2 minutes). https://globalnews.ca/video/4825347/groundbreaking-seniors-co-housing-project-in-saskatoon-focuses-on-community-living

A short exploration of the Wolf Willow project in Saskatoon, one of the pioneers of the co-housing concept in Canada.

Sunday Edition (2016, August 26). B.C. seniors build a new way to age in place. CBC. (32 minutes). https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/hisham-matar-judge-lynn-smith-co-housing-spotlight-investigation-1.3732577/b-c-seniors-build-a-new-way-to-age-in-place-1.3737140

A podcast exploring the story of an innovative and successful seniors cohousing development in Sooke, B.C.

Transportation for an Aging Society

(Chapter 8 by Neena L. Chappell)

Relevant Readings

Council of Canadian Academies (2017). Older Canadians on the move: The expert panel on the transportation needs of an aging population. Ottawa (ON): Council of Canadian Academies. https://cca-reports.ca/reports/older-canadians-on-the-move/

This report provides a vision for an age-friendly transportation system for Canada, with examples and references.

Kovacs, F. S. McLeod, S., and Curtis, C. (2020). Aged mobility in the era of transportation disruption: Will autonomous vehicles address impediments to the mobility of ageing populations? Behaviour and Society 20, 122–132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tbs.2020.03.004

This systematic review provides an update on the state of knowledge of the factors that limit the mobility and well-being of older adults, as well as the potential of autonomous vehicles. It finds that older adults are a heterogenous group and that their travel needs vary depending on life events.

Transport Canada. (2016). Minister-Led Indigenous Roundtable on the Future of Transportation. Government of Canada. https://tc.canada.ca/en/corporate-services/minister-led-indigenous-roundtable-future-transportation-summary-discussion

This publication of the Roundtable identifies the most pressing transportation concerns and opportunities associated with transportation connectivity, safety, efficiency, and environmental impacts from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples; presents options and a path forward to improve the Canadian transportation system from Indigenous perspectives (e.g. balancing environmental protection with socio-economic objectives); and identifies means of pursuing collaboration with Indigenous communities on transportation issues that advances the Government of Canada’s commitment to a renewed, Nation-to-Nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Road Scholar


Road Scholar is a lifelong learning, not-for-profit travel company oriented toward older adults that provides practice information to people that are interested in education travel.

Relevant Videos

Centre for Ageing Better. (2018, September 3). Age friendly training: Improving services for older customers. YouTube. (4 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJEzL5Z_rDM

As part of the Age Friendly Island Big Lottery partnership, Age UK Isle of Wight developed training to help service providers deliver age-friendly transportation.

Hanson, Trevor. (2018). NBIF R3 2018 Finalist: Age Friendly Transportation. CBC. (3 minutes). https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1189519939974

Trevor Hanson, finalist in a University of New Brunswick competition, discusses age-friendly transportation planning to facilitate safe and efficient mobility among rural older adults.

AgeTech: Technology-Based Solutions for Aging Societies

(Chapter 9 by Andrew Sixsmith)

Relevant Readings

Key journals that deal with AgingTech include The Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering (RATE) (https://journals.sagepub.com/home/jrt) and Gerontechnology (https://journal.gerontechnology.org).

AGE-WELL (2019). The future of technology and aging research in Canada. https://agewell-nce.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Booklet_8_Challenges_English_5_final_PROOF_rev.pdf

This online booklet describes eight challenge areas within the AGE-WELL network.

Baker, S., Beleno, R., Bryanton, O., et al. (2020). Living Under COVID-19 Restrictions: The Experiences of Older Adults and Caregivers. AGE-WELL NCE Inc. https://agewell-nce.ca/wp-content/uploads/OACAC_Living_under_COVID-19_restrictions_June2020.pdf

This is an online booklet of personas and scenarios focusing on the potential of AgeTech to support older adults and caregivers.

Sixsmith, A., Fang, M. L., Mihailidis, A., & Sixsmith, J. (2021). Knowledge, Innovation, and Impact: A Guide for the Engaged Health Researcher. New York: Springer.

This book provides researchers with a straightforward and accessible guide on how to carry out research by combining good science with real-world impact.

Sixsmith, A., & Gutman, G. (Eds.) (2013). Technologies for active aging. New York; Springer.

This book serves as a pointer to directions for future research in technology and aging and emerging technologies, products, and services.

STAR Institute (2019). Key Issues in Aging in the 21st Century. https://www.sfu.ca/content/dam/sfu/starinstitute/Photos/STARDigitalBooklet/STAR%20Digital%20Booklet5.pdf

This online booklet outlines 18 key issues for research, innovation, and technology that will have real-world benefits for older adults, the economy, and policymakers.

Wong, K., Sixsmith, A., and Remund, L. (2021). In Community - Information and Referral Services for Seniors in British Colombia Past Learnings and Learning since COVID-19. STAR Institute, SFU. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350042480_In_Community_-_Information_and_Referral_Services_for_Seniors_in_British_Columbia_Past_Learnings_and_Learnings_since_COVID-19

This report summarizes information and research activities to help identify the key issues and areas affecting seniors in order to shape future support and service delivery in the context of the rapid shift from in-person activities to the digital realm.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence


This network connects Canadian researchers and stakeholders working in the AgeTech sector.



This is a global network of businesses in the AgeTech sector.

European Commission


The European Commission research and innovation programs have a major AgeTech focus. On their website, they describe their work as: “a funding programme that aims to create better quality of life for older people and to strengthen industrial opportunities in the field of healthy ageing technology and innovation.”

International Society for Gerontechnology (ISG)


ISG encourages and promotes technological innovations in products and services that address older peoples’ ambitions and needs on the basis of scientific knowledge about aging processes. ISG works toward the realization of a society fully served by technology that is as accessible to aging people as it is to people in younger generations

Horizon 2020


Horizon 2020’s goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation, and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

Science and Technology for Aging Research (STAR) Institute


The Star Institute at Simon Fraser University provides a number of resources on their website related to science and technology for older adults.

Telehealth and Telecare Aware


Telehealth and Telecare Aware provides news about technology products and services that help older and disabled people live independently.

Reducing Social Isolation: Fostering Social Support and Participation

(Chapter 10 by Daniel Naud and Mélanie Levasseur)

Relevant Readings

AARP (2018). Loneliness and Social Connections. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/life-leisure/2018/loneliness-social-connections-2018.doi.10.26419-2Fres.00246.001.pdf

This AARP report on social connections in 2018, discusses improving our understanding of loneliness and how it relates to social isolation factors. This study also measures the prevalence rates of loneliness across demographic groups in the US and provides a descriptive profile of lonely adults, while also exploring the relationship between loneliness and life experiences, social connections, health, and technology.

Johnson, C. S., Bacsu, J., McIntosh, T., et al. (2017). Addressing social isolation among immigrant and refugee seniors: Environmental scan of programs and services in Canada. Regina, SK: Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit, University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan. https://spheru.ca/publications/files/SI_NIRS%20Programs%20Scan_18June2017final.pdf

An overview of 40 programs and services to prevent or reduce social isolation for immigrant and refugee seniors, at the national, provincial, and community level in Canada.

Thoits, P. A. (2011). Mechanisms linking social ties and support to physical and mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 52(2), 145–161. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022146510395592

In this article, Peggy Thoits discusses the mechanisms through which social relationships and social support improve physical and psychological well-being. The understanding of these mechanisms may be crucial in the design of effective interventions, as well as the relative impact of each of those mechanisms on health outcomes.

Wister, Andrew (2014). Report on Isolation of Seniors 2013–2014, Ottawa: National Seniors Council, Government of Canada.

The objective of this report was to share the input received through the Council’s consultation efforts on the issue and provide advice in the form of suggested measures for federal consideration that could help to prevent and reduce social isolation of seniors in Canada

Relevant Websites and Organizations

About My Age


About My Age was a social networking website for reducing loneliness of older Australians, allowing them to access a community and talk at any time they might feel lonely (especially during the evening) and giving an alternative opportunity to interact with others. Although research on interventions relying on internet social networks is still limited, the webpage provides users’ appreciative comments on their experience with the network. The following reference studied the impact on the users: Ballantyne, A., Trenwith, L., Zubrinich, S., et Corlis, M. (2010). ‘I feel less lonely’: what older people say about participating in a social networking website. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults 11(3), 25–35. http://dx.doi.org/10.5042/qiaoa.2010.0526

Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum (Employment and Social Development Canada)


This is an intergovernmental portal on seniors which provides information and resources on social isolation, caregiving, aging in place, low income among older adults, intergenerational relations, volunteering and active aging, elder abuse, financial crimes, and labour force participation.

HelpAge Canada, RISE—Reach Isolated Seniors Everywhere


The RISE website provides information and resources to engage professionals and citizens to look out for and care for isolated older adults, helping them stay involved in their community. It also provides associations’ coordinates for potential volunteers to contact.

The Little Brothers Pairing Program


The Little Brothers provide support to lonely older people, by pairing them with trained volunteer individuals or families, to build a long-term and significant relationship through weekly phone calls and visits. The pairing program currently provides over 15,000 visits every year to older adults, which makes it a potentially promising practice. Potential volunteers and lonely older adults can apply on the website.

Older Men at the Margins


An engaging webpage on a two-year study to understand how men aged 65 and over from different social backgrounds and circumstances experienced loneliness and social isolation. Older men are less likely than women to admit they’re lonely, they could be more vulnerable to social isolation, and struggle to access social support. The webpage provides resources to improve older men’s experience in a group context.

Rx Community—Social Prescribing in Ontario


Social prescribing is a specially structured way of referring people to a range of local, non-clinical services. The Alliance for Healthier Communities piloted a Social Prescribing project in 11 Community Health Centres in Ontario between September 2018 and December 2019. Doctors refer patients to a “linked worker” who connects them with community services and programs that match their needs. The Alliance suggests the “prescription” can take many forms: dance lessons, karaoke, museum visits, even bingo. It complements clinical treatments and seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. The webpage provides a short documentary in which seniors share their experience.

Relevant Videos

Picard, André. (2018). Ah look at all the lonely people. TEDxKelowna. (12 minutes). https://www.andrepicard.com/video/

Canadian health journalist André Picard introduces his audience to the concept of loneliness, addressing adverse effects, determinants and community building.

Pinker, Susan. (2017). The secret to living longer may be your social life. TED Talk. (16 minutes). https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_pinker_the_secret_to_living_longer_may_be_your_social_life/transcript?language=en

Susan Pinker offers an engaging and evidence-based talk on the mechanisms that link social interactions with longevity, punctuated by anecdotes from her interviews with long-lived people on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Relationships in Later Life

(Chapter 11 by Peggy Edwards)

Relevant Readings

Airey, L., Lain, D., Jandrić, J.et al. (2020). A selfish generation? ‘Baby boomers’, values, and the provision of childcare for grandchildren. The Sociological Review 69(4) 812–829. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026120916104

Baby boomers have been portrayed as selfish and individualistic, depriving subsequent generations of the opportunities they themselves benefitted from. This debate has ignored intergenerational transfers within families, such as provision of grandparental childcare. This article explores why grandparents choose to provide childcare for grandchildren while their adult children are working. Values are important foundations for the decision to care for grandchildren. Some grandparents significantly changed their employment and housing circumstances to provide childcare, undermining the stereotype of a ‘selfish generation.’

Battams, N (2017). Sharing a Roof: Multi-generational Homes in Canada (2016 Census Update). The Vanier Institute of the Family. https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/bb1f693a/files/uploaded/TA_2017-09-29_Multi-generational-homes.pdf

Home is at the heart of family life, where family relationships are formed and nurtured throughout the life cycle. Family resource management is an important factor in multigenerational households (those housing three or more generations), of which there were nearly 404,000 across Canada in 2016. These represented the fastest-growing household type between 2001 and 2016 (+37.5%), and they are home to 2.2 million people, or 6.3% of Canada’s population (up from 4% in 2001). This article provides information on multigenerational living arrangements, care, and resource management.

Bein, S. (2018). Grey Divorce: Why Are More Baby Boomers Ending Their Marriages When They Get Older? National Post. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/grey-divorce-why-are-more-baby-boomers-splitting-up-their-marriages-as-they-get-older

This article explores the Grey Divorce trend in popular culture. “As we live longer and longer lives, it may be that we are more aware of how much time we’ll need to spend with our partners—and that might not paint a pretty picture as we re-evaluate our relationships later in life.”

Carver, L. F. (2019). Aging with pets isn’t just a sentimental concern, but a matter of health and wellness. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/aging-with-pets-isnt-just-a-sentimental-concern-but-a-matter-of-health-and-wellness-120700

In this article Lisa Carver, professor at Queen’s University, discusses why programs dedicated to keeping pets and older adults together are expected to result in quality-of-life and health-related benefits to older pet owners, as well as savings to health-care systems and social programs.

Chopik, W. J., Newton, N. J., Ryan, L. H. et al. (2017). Gratitude across the life span: Age differences and links to subjective wellbeing. The Journal of Positive Psychology 14 (3), 292–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2017.1414296

Gratitude has been described as an adaptive evolutionary mechanism that is relevant to healthy psychological and interpersonal outcomes. Questions remain as to whether the presence and benefits of gratitude are consistent from young adulthood to old age. The investigators examined the magnitude and direction of age differences in gratitude in three samples (combined N = 31,206), and whether gratitude was associated with greater/lesser well-being at different periods in the life course. They found that the experience of gratitude was greatest in older adults and least in middle aged and younger adults, and that the associations between gratitude and subjective well-being remained relatively constant across the lifespan. Findings are discussed from a developmental perspective.

Danilo Bzdok, D. and Dunbar, R. (2020). The Neurobiology of Social Distance. Trends Cognitive Science 24(9), 717–733. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2020.05.016

Never before have we experienced social isolation on such a massive scale as we have in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Over recent years, emerging evidence from various disciplines has made it abundantly clear: perceived social isolation (i.e., loneliness) may be the most potent threat to survival and longevity. This article highlights the benefits of social bonds (including friendships), the choreographies of bond creation and maintenance, as well as the neurocognitive basis of social isolation and its deep consequences for mental and physical health.

Fingerman, K. L., Sechrist, J., & Birditt, K. (2013). Changing views on intergenerational ties. Gerontology 59(1), 64–70. https://doi.org/10.1159/000342211

Ties to parents or grown children may be the most important social relationships in an adult’s life. This review considers some of the major theoretical developments in the field, including solidarity and intergenerational ambivalence theory, as well as the newly developed multidimensional model of support.

Gilchrist, C. (2014). The Impact of Intergenerational Programs: Evidence for Expansion. Master’s Thesis, Miami University. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Impact-of-Intergenerational-Programs%3A-Evidence-Gilchrist/2b531c9480b41883f7a4de9e9828c6f263606dbd

This meta-analysis evaluated intergenerational (IG) scholarly literature from several disciplines to categorize and quantify IG program outcomes. Outcome data were organized into a conceptual framework, stratified by central dimensions of human development and age groups. A majority of articles found positive outcomes only among all target participant age groups and dimensions of human development. This evidence further supports the magnitude and potential impact of IG programs on society, community, and the individual.

Harasemiw O, Newall N, Shooshtari S, et al. (2017). From Social Integration to Social Isolation: The Relationship Between Social Network Types and Perceived Availability of Social Support in a National Sample of Older Canadians. Research Aging 40(8), 715–739. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0164027517734587

The authors identify social network types in a national sample of older Canadians and explore whether they are associated with perceived availability of different types of social support (affectionate, emotional, or tangible, and positive social interactions). Data were drawn from the baseline questionnaire of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging for participants aged 65–85. Social support generally declined as social networks became more restricted; however, different patterns of social support availability emerged for different social network groups. These findings suggest that certain types of social networks place older adults at risk of not having met specific social support needs.

Kyle, K. (2019) A culture not lost but disconnected. CBC News. https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/cambridge-bay-elders-annanas-camp

Colonialism has left some young Inuit in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, struggling to connect with their culture. But a group of grandmothers is fighting to change that. This article is part of a series by CBC Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the North examined how the role of elders is evolving in today's society.

Linkages Reading List: Sexuality and Sexual Health in Later Life. (2019) Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Sexuality-Sexual-Health-in-Later-Life.pdf

This reading list includes links to and summaries of a variety of resources including considerations regarding sexual activity and aging, stereotypes and ageism, sexual function, discussing sexual well-being with patients, considerations for health care professionals, sexually transmitted infections, LGBTQ2+ considerations, intimacy in long-term care, capacity, and consent in dementia.

Lypny, N. (2019). The pressing need to learn from Indigenous elders. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/walking-with-elders-1.5349553

An additional part of the series described above.

Statistics Canada (2019). Family Matters: Grandparents in Canada Infographics https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/catalogue/11-627-M2019001

This infographic presents results from the 2017 General Social Survey on families and more specifically grandparents in Canada. The population of interest is Canadians aged 45 and over who are grandparents.

Torjman Sherri (2018).Intergenerational Policies and Programs. Maytree. https://maytree.com/wp-content/uploads/Intergenerational-Policies.pdf

This report explores the concept and practice of intergenerational policies and programs. It first explains the notion of an intergenerational lens, particularly within the context of sustainable development. It sets out options for public policies and community-based programs if an intergenerational lens were to be more explicitly and deliberately employed. These public policies consider the relative share of public and private spending between younger and older Canadians and are intended to affect a better balance of investments between generations. The third section discusses exemplary community programs that promote good health and well-being.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

The i2i Intergenerational Society of Canada


i2i is poised as a repository for information, resources, sharing, research, and celebration in the field of intergenerational relations. This website and the i2i Intergenerational Society exist for those with interest in pursuing activities, discussions, and research in the field of intergenerational relations.

InterGen Studio


The InterGen Studio is a mentored and collaborative web space that connects youth and elders with professional and peer support across Canada and around the world, empowering younger and older people to collaborate to develop broadcast-quality digital stories inspired by their life experiences. The preservation of cultural storytelling through this project empowers youth through creative engagement, gives a voice to seniors through cultural storytelling, and may create lasting friendships across generations. The digital stories that result will teach, entertain, and preserve our heritage. The InterGen Studio is scheduled to launch by the end of 2021.

Men’s Sheds


Men’s Sheds are modern, shared versions of the home workshops that have long been part of the Canadian way of life. The Canadian Men’s Sheds Association is a peer-run group that aims to build relationships between Canadian sheds, help new ones get started, and raise awareness about the friendly, inclusive, and creative spaces that sheds can provide.

Vanier Institute of the Family


Resources on multigenerational living, relationships, and grandparenting, including:

  • Family Policy Update: Changes to the Divorce Act (2021). Fact sheet.
  • Research Recap: Exploring Grand-family Experiences (2021). Fact sheet.
  • Research Recap – Divorced and Unpartnered: New Insights on a Growing Population in Canada (2021). Fact sheet.
  • Getting to Know My Great-Grandfather Through Family Archives (2020). Fact sheet.
  • A Snapshot of Grandparents in Canada (2019 Update)
  • Long-lasting Relationships in Canada (2019)
  • A Snapshot of Population Aging and Intergenerational Relationships in Canada (2017). Fact sheet.
  • Modern Couples in Canada Infographics: 2016 Census Update (2017)
  • Divorce, Separation and Uncoupling in Canada (based on 2011 Census). Facts and Stats sheet.

Relevant Videos

The Carol Burnett Show Official. (2019, June 6,). The Oldest Man: The Shoe Store. YouTube. (9 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZimSrMj4v4

The Oldest Man is a recurring character created by Tim Conway for comedy sketches featured on The Carol Burnett Show. In this episode, The Oldest Man and Stella Toddler (Carol Burnett) hit it off when Conway tries to sell her a pair of blue slippers. Did these kinds of portrayals of older people in television exacerbate stereotyping and ageism? Would producers and audiences accept this episode today?

Field Day. (2015, May 14). 100 Years of Beauty: Aging: Cut Has a Field Day. YouTube. (6 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9HlHmY-PsA

If you could gaze into the future, how would you feel seeing the love of your life as a 90-year-old? Cut offered a young couple about to say their vows the unique chance to do just that by aging them over 60 years with incredibly life-like makeup and prosthetics. Spoiler alert—they fall in love again and again.

Grow old along with me. (2009). YouTube. (4 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2gfiet4PtI

Mary Chapin Carpenter sings the love song written by John Lennon using some of the words from Robert Browning’s poem with notes and lyrics.

Kosofsky, Isadora. (2018).Intimate Photos of a Senior Love Triangle. Ted Talk. (5 minutes). https://www.ted.com/talks/isadora_kosofsky_intimate_photos_of_a_senior_love_triangle

Photographer Isadora Kosofsky is a chronicler of love, loss, and loneliness. In this searching talk, she shares photos from her four years documenting the lives of a senior citizen love triangle—and reveals what they can teach us about the universal search for identity and belonging.

ReveraInc. (2017). The Revera and Reel Youth Age is More Documentary. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn8Ba-nTAAE&list=PLsE68E5qac9oXhI-s50AfWQOKqeyydMNv

The Age is More Film Project is an intergenerational partnership between Revera, a Canadian corporation providing seniors’ accommodation, care, and services, and Reel Youth, a not-for-profit that empowers youth to create engaging films about important social issues. In this engaging video, older and younger generations address stereotypes about aging and the place of older people in the lives of younger people.

Steve TV Show. (2014, February 4). 100 Year Old BFFs. YouTube. (5 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipnGPeRIy2k

In this enjoyable video, two women who have been friends for 94 years give us their take on today’s pop culture.

Mistreatment of Older Adults

(Chapter 12 by Marie Beaulieu, Julien Cadieux Genesse, and Kevin St-Martin)

Relevant Readings

Beaulieu, M., Leboeuf, R., Pelletier, C., & Cadieux Genesse, J. (2018). Mistreatment of Older Adults. In J. Laforest, P. Maurice, and L. M. Bouchard. (Eds.). Québec Report on Violence and Health (pp.1–53). Quebec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333803520_Mistreatment_of_older_adults

In this chapter, which is part of the Québec Report on Violence and Health, mistreatment of older adults is framed as a complex multifactorial problem that can occur anywhere and that is influenced by social, political, and cultural factors, as well as factors associated with older adults themselves, the people who mistreat them, and the environment in which the mistreatment occurs. Through this lens, the authors present the risk and protective factors as well as the consequences and signs of mistreatment that service providers should be sensitive to in their assessment of situations of suspected mistreatment. The chapter ends on an overview of prevention practices and their effectiveness.

Duthie, S. and Johnson, J. E. (2021). Elder Abuse. You Have a Role to Play. Prominence Publishing.

John E. Johnson, a lawyer who volunteered with Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario and dealt with elder abuse in his practice, and Sabby Duthie, a former retirement-home owner, share real stories from families of different generations and backgrounds. Combined with reliable statistics, the result is chilling evidence that the mistreatment of older adults exists in every facet of our senior citizens’ lives. The stories encompass every level of contact, including doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, family members, social workers, and the frontline workers at both retirement homes and long-term care centres. The book encourages us/the public to have the conversation about elder abuse respectfully and lovingly to ensure that our loved ones know they have a right to live free of abuse. We all have a role to play in the resolution.

Harbison, J. (2016). Contesting Elder Abuse and Neglect: Ageism, risk and the rhetoric of rights in the mistreatment of older people. UBC Press.

Contesting Elder Abuse and Neglect is a comprehensive scholarly critique on the subject of mistreatment of older adults grounded in the idea that the conceptual development of mistreatment has been undermined by a lack of proper theorizing. With a focus on Canada, it explores the emergence, development, and evolution of the field of mistreatment of older adults, considers what needs to be done to further understand the issue, critically analyses policies, legislation, and practices, takes into account the perspective of older adults, and argues that the discourse on mistreatment and the frameworks for its investigation needs to change.

Moore, C. & Browne, C. (2017). Emerging Innovations, Best Practices, and Evidence-Based Practices in Elder Abuse and Neglect: A Review of Recent Developments on the Field. Journal of Family Violence 32(4), 383–397. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10896-016-9812-4

In this systematic review, Moore and Browne present an in-depth look at evidence-based practice with regards to mistreatment of older adults. Through it, they promote the use of risk assessment and risk reduction tools, education programs, community approaches, as well as interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams. Some emerging practices are presented and 22 “best practices” are put forth.

National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (2016). Into the light: National survey on the mistreatment of older Canadians 2015. Government of Canada. https://cnpea.ca/images/canada-report-june-7-2016-pre-study-lynnmcdonald.pdf

The National survey on the mistreatment of older Canadians is a study that provides data on the prevalence, risk factors, and causes of mistreatment of older community dwelling Canadians. The report describes the state of elder abuse and neglect in Canada, the guiding theoretical framework, the methodology applied in the study, the findings of the study, and the extent to which the findings address the original research goals. The report also draws conclusions based on the data and offers some implications for future elder abuse research and for services for mistreated older adults in Canada.

Phelan, A. (2020). Advances in Elder Abuse Research. Practice, Legislation and Policy. Springer.

Advances in Elder Abuse Research was born of a desire to appreciate how the field of mistreatment of older adults has progressed with regards to research, practice, policy, and legislation. It provides a broad yet comprehensive look into new perspectives and approaches, highlights emerging issues such as mistreatment in the LGBTQ2+ community, describes key social policies, laws, and programs, and presents examples from multiple countries.

Teaster, P. B., & Hall, J. E. (2018). Elder Abuse and the Public’s Health. Springer.

In Elder Abuse and the Public’s Health, Teaster and Hall frame the mistreatment of older adults as a public health problem. With the contribution of leading scholars in public health and gerontology, they situate mistreatment within the core functions of public health, address theoretical and applied issues, explore frameworks for effective public health practices, recognize efforts in addressing mistreatment, and much more.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA)


This website provides over 50 brochures and factsheets on social isolation, elder abuse, caregiving, scams and frauds, red flags, etc., mostly from Canadian organizations.

Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario (EAO)


Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario is a provincial, charitable, non-profit organization focused on supporting the implementation of The Ontario Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse since 2002. The EAO focuses on raising awareness around elder abuse issues and building capacity of front-line workers, caregivers, and community networks by providing public education and training of professionals/service providers and families. The website contains and extensive list of reports, articles, tools, and provincial, national, and international links.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day


This campaign was designed for 2021World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which happens each year on June 15th. It features fact sheets, a webinar recording with an expert panel, a set of statements proclaiming the rights of older people, posters, and a movement sign on.

World Health Organization, Elder Abuse


This website contains comprehensive information on elder abuse and its prevention around the world as well as links to related resources.

Helplines for Older Adults Experiencing Mistreatment


Family Violence Info Line (Phone: 310-1818). Provides information, advice, referrals, and crisis intervention in over 170 languages for all victims of family violence.

Calgary Elder Abuse Resource Line (Phone: 403-705-3250). Provides support, information, and crisis intervention to older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

Edmonton Seniors Abuse Help Line (Phone 780-454-8888). Provides support, information, referrals, and crisis intervention to older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

Red Deer Helping Elder Abuse Reduction (H.E.A.R) (Phone: 403-346-6076 or 1-877-454-2580). Provides support, information, and referrals for older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

British Columbia

Senior Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) (Phone: 604-437-1940 or 1-866-437-1940). Provides support and information to older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends

VictimLinkBC (Phone: 1-800-563-0808). Provides support, referrals, and crisis intervention to all victims of crime. Services are offered in more than 110 languages, including 17 North American Aboriginal languages.


Senior’s Abuse support line (Phone: 1-888-896-7183). Provides support, information, and counseling to older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

A&O Support Services for Older adults Intake Line (Phone: 1-888-333-3121). Provides support, information, counseling, and referrals to Manitobans 55 and older experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

New Brunswick

Seniors Information Line (Phone: 1-855-550-0552). Provides information regarding programs and services to assist older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

Chimo Crisis Helpline (Phone: 1-800-667-5005). Provides support, referrals, and crisis intervention for any issues including mistreatment of older adults, thoughts of suicide, emotional stress, employment, accommodations, and loneliness.

Newfoundland and Labrador

SeniorsNL Information and Referral Line (Phone: 1-800-563-5599). Provides support, information, and referrals to older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.

Nova Scotia

Senior Abuse Information and Referral Line (Phone: 1-877-8333-3377). Provides support and information to older adults experiencing mistreatment and concerned family and friends.


Senior Safety Line (Phone: 1-866-299-1011). Provides support, counseling, safety planning, and information to older adults experiencing abuse, concerned family and friends, and service providers.

Prince Edward Island

The Island Helpline (Phone: 1-800-218-2885). Provides support, guidance, and crisis intervention to Islanders of all ages for a variety of issues, including mistreatment of older adults.


Ligne Aide Abus Aîné/Elder Mistreatment Helpline (Phone: 1-888-489-2287). Provides support, counseling, and information to older adults experiencing abuse, concerned family and friends, and service providers.

Crime victim’s assistance centre (CAVAC) (Phone: 1-866-532-2822). Provides support and information for victims, concerned family and friends, and witnesses of a crime regardless of the nature and gravity of the crime or when the crime occurred.


SSM Information Line (Phone: 1-888-823-2211). Provides information and assistance to older adults, concerned family and friends, and service providers on a variety of issues including mistreatment of older adults

Northwest Territories

Family Violence Crisis Line (Phone: 1-800-661-0844). Provides support to residents of the Northwest Territories dealing with a variety of issues including mistreatment of older adults.


Elders support phone line (In Inuktitut only) (Phone: 1-866-684-5056). Provides counseling for Inuktitut speaking older adults on a variety of issues.


VictimLinkBC (Phone: 1-800-563-0808). Provides support, referrals, and crisis intervention to all victims of crime. Services are offered in more than 110 languages, including 17 North American Aboriginal languages.

Relevant Videos and Training

Elder Abuse Prevention ON. Violence Against Older Women Learning Modules. http://www.eapon.ca/training-education/training/violence-against-older-women-learning-modules/

Five video learning modules are focused on strategies to address violence against older women. Each learning module is comprised of a video approximately 30 minutes in length. These modules can stand alone or be completed as a series, depending on one’s learning needs.

IFA Global Café. (2021, March 26). Plans of Action to Counter Elder Abuse and Mistreatment: In Conversation with Dr. Marie Beaulieu. (1 hour). https://ifa.ngo/ifa-global-cafe/

One of the most disturbing social consequences of COVID-19 is the significant increase in the number of elder abuse cases and neglect, paralleling the rise of ageism. In this video webinar, Dr. Beaulieu, an international expert in the field of the mistreatment of older adults and the primary author of Chapter 12, addresses this reality and provides her perspectives on the global fight to combat this grave social issue.