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Countering Isolation Among the Elderly: An Ongoing Mission for the Past 60 Years

30 % of the 600,000 people aged 75 and over in Quebec are likely to suffer from social isolation [1] in the coming years. Making a concrete difference when dealing with a situation of this magnitude requires constant commitment. It requires coordinating and mobilizing all available resources to act effectively. It also means alerting public opinion to the challenges ahead in an ageing society.

These are the many tasks to which volunteers and members of the Little Brothers team have devoted themselves since its beginnings in Quebec in 1962.

Anchored in the community to provide better support

Little Brothers has built a solid expertise on issues facing seniors. Over the decades, we have refined our strategies to improve our effectiveness. Today, Little Brothers is a reference for all aspects relating to the elderly. 

Identifying seniors in need

How can we identify those who go unnoticed, who are fragile and suffer from isolation? Many of our team members are engaged in this process. By building relationships with other groups in the field, CIUSSS social workers, as well as community organizations that assist seniors, they are able to identify seniors who need support. Little Brothers’ approach, rooted in trust and respect, creates a safe environment in which seniors are able to open up, and allow them into their lives.

Building relationships

Every day, in various regions across Quebec, our teams are looking after the elderly to ensure they receive adequate and personalized support. They are there to listen, plan social events and pair seniors up with the most suitable volunteers. At every event, our teams provide our Great Friends with a warm welcome, demonstrating that they have value in the eyes of others.

These occasions aim to restore the social bonds and trust – often lost – of those who have been isolated for a long time. On a more concrete level, this mission involves organizing activities, celebrations, and vacation getaways that allow barriers to be broken, and to offer much needed support and affection. 

Providing companionship

Little Brothers works actively to find, recruit, and train volunteers who can accompany, and eventually be paired with, our Great Friends. Our teams’ expertise allows them to guide and mentor volunteers so that they in turn can thrive and provide the best support possible. This expertise also enables them to identify compatible personalities for successful matches. 

A life-long presence

Little Brothers differs from other social organizations in that, when they become part an elderly person’s life, they promise to support them until the end. Regardless of the person’s physical or cognitive health, Little Brothers will stay by their side to their very last breath. Without a doubt, Little Brothers becomes a true substitute family for those who have lost their loved ones.

The assurance of never feeling lonely again is a great relief for the elderly. It helps to improve their morale and their physical and cognitive abilities. 

Our skills and knowledge are in demand

The expertise acquired by Little Brothers on issues that affect the elderly is now widely recognized. This wealth of knowledge provides our organization with the chance to participate in numerous scientific and academic research projects. In addition, it reveals the stark realities of isolated seniors, which are subsequently shared with other organizations, different levels of government, and the general public.

One of our missions is to bring the plight of the elderly to the forefront of public discussion. We must raise awareness among the public using all available media, in order to reach as many people as possible.

Raising awareness

At certain times of the year, we like to remind the public that some elderly people in our midst are excluded and forgotten. In particular, the International Day of Older Persons (October 1) aims to raise awareness regarding social isolation and other difficulties associated with aging. 

Christmas and Easter are also ideal times to sensitize the public about these issues. For many of us, holidays are a time to come together with family members and celebrate – and to realize how lucky we are not to be alone. But for isolated seniors, holidays can be one of the loneliest times of the year. At Little Brothers, we want to ensure that they will be included.

A constant commitment that brings joy

Little Brothers and their volunteers provide companionship for Great Friends year-round. Every day, we see how gestures of affection, no matter how small, can bring happiness to seniors. We encourage you to be more attentive to the elderly people around you.

A present, a few words, a visit, a smile… each small act of compassion brings comfort.  

And why not go one step further? By getting involved with Little Brothers, you could make a big difference in the everyday life of lonely and isolated seniors.

Sources :

[1] Les Petits Frères. L’isolement des personnes âgées de 75 ans ou plus. (SDP).

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