In order to participate socially, seniors must be able to access their communities and their services, and other resources. Having appropriate and accessible information about available resources is important. Sufficient income and the means of getting from home to community services are also required for social participation. If barriers to accessibility are not removed, some seniors will become socially isolated and at risk for depression.
Accessibility to Information
The following material is from the Public Health Agency of Canada website, retrieved January 2009
- Information is provided about Seniors as a Diverse Population .
- Barriers to communication and how they can be overcome are discussed.
- Issues related to special populations are discussed (communication impairments, literacy, ethnocultural interpretation).
- Strategies for Reaching Seniors Through Various Mediums are presented.
Income and Accessibility
Seniors with low incomes are at increased risk of social exclusion and isolation as their incomes may be inadequate to meet even their basic needs and cost of living increases. As people age they may experience additional costs related to an increased number of chronic conditions, impaired vision, hearing and mobility. For example, medications, glasses, hearing aids, dental care, incontinent supplies, mobility aids and specialized transportation may be required. Additionally, rents and costs associated with home ownership (e.g., taxes, home repairs and renovations) may increase while income remains relatively fixed.
Faced with the foregoing expenses many seniors’ ability to access community resources are compromised, directly and indirectly. If medications are not purchased and taken as prescribed the senior will not benefit from them and may in fact jeopardize their health and functioning. A hearing deficit that is not corrected may severely inhibit social participation, while unaddressed visual problems may reduce the seniors’ sense of safety outside the home.
If incontinence products, mobility aids or specialized transport cannot be purchased many seniors may become housebound. If all income is spent on necessities there will be no excess for the direct (e.g., program fees) or indirect costs (e.g., transportation) of social participation. Programs and policies can reduce barriers to accessing community resources that result from low income (and therefore the risk of social isolation), directly and indirectly, as the following examples suggest.