British Columbia

New workshops to ease loneliness for immigrant seniors

The B.C. Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support is starting a series of workshops for immigrant seniors.

Immigrant seniors feel isolation more keenly due to language barriers, says B.C. Centre for Elder Advocacy

Studies say loneliness can have a negative impact on your health. (Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr)

A new series of workshops aims to help immigrant seniors across the Lower Mainland combat loneliness and isolation.

The workshops, organized by the B.C. Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, will also empower seniors to express their hopes and feelings.

Organizer Lin Chen told The Early Edition that immigrant seniors are more isolated than other seniors.

"They may come not knowing how to speak English and ... without knowing the language, they may have trouble accessing the resources and help they might need."

In addition, family obligations — particularly taking care of younger grandchildren — often mean seniors have little time for themselves.

Empowering seniors

Without English, Chen explained, immigrant seniors can be very vulnerable.

The workshops are meant to empower seniors by teaching them how to access community resources and advocate on behalf of themselves, she said.

Sensitive topics like elder abuse will also be covered, and Chen says facilitators will create a space where elders feel comfortable speaking out.

Chen hopes the workshops will allow peer-to-peer support to develop.

"We want to encourage seniors to make friends with each other and find mutual support."

The first workshop started Monday in Richmond, with workshops to follow in Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby.

A full list of details and dates can be found on the B.C. Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support website.

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Workshops help isolated immigrant seniors