For over 60 years, Little Brothers has been working to ensure that as many lonely seniors as possible can spend the holidays in good company, including those who have mobility problems. This year will be no exception to tradition. Nearly 2,500 seniors who receive companionship from the organization will be invited to a traditional meal in their local community, or will receive a visit at their home.
In many regions of Quebec, team members and volunteers are busy preparing end-of-year celebrations to suit their means and numbers. Their goal: to give lonely seniors aged 75 and over a chance to socialize and create opportunities to meet others.
However, these preparations are not without their challenges. Faced with rising prices for food, goods and services, they have to double their efforts to stay within their budget, without cutting back too much on the little extras that give so much pleasure.
In 2023 alone, 500 new seniors knocked on the organization’s door or were referred by health and social services professionals. That’s 700 volunteers short of the number needed to meet day-to-day support needs.
A difficult year that ends in solidarity
In 2023, a very large number of seniors were hit hard by inflation. It weighs on their purchasing power and their ability to enjoy life to the full. In addition, our already fragile healthcare system is not always able to meet their growing needs, and access to affordable housing remains a major challenge. Against this backdrop, Little Brothers wants to be there for them this holiday season, helping them connect with something positive.
“Many elderly people live alone and don’t know who to talk to. They no longer have close relatives to confide in. Those with limited mobility are the most likely to suffer from loneliness. They don’t get around much and don’t see many people, especially during the cold season. Fortunately, our volunteers are there to help. They make regular calls and visits to these people, even on Christmas Day,” explains Catherine Harel-Bourdon, President and CEO of Little Brothers.
Human warmth and social relations are essential
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a real public health problem for our societies. Social isolation is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, not to mention the increased risk of psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
One in five seniors has no one to turn to. More than ever, the values of sharing, generosity and commitment need to be at the forefront of our efforts to help them.
“This time of year is synonymous with joy, sharing and getting together for many of us. But for those who don’t have a family to spend the holidays with, the magic is slow to sink in. The spirit of Christmas is also about thinking of those who may not have been as fortunate as we are,” points out Marie-Thérèse Fortin, the organization’s spokesperson since 2017.
Little Brothers recalls that its mission relies almost entirely on the volunteer commitment of some 3,000 dedicated individuals in 12 administrative regions of Quebec. The organization also points out that only a fraction of its financial support comes from the government; 85% of its mission is supported by donations from the general public, family foundations and private companies.
Supporting Little Brothers is supporting a great network of friendship and kindness that works year-round for the well-being of Quebec’s aging and frail population.
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