After he became aware of the severe effects of loneliness and isolation on seniors, Brampton university student Mahad Shahzad started Chatting to Wellness in 2017, when he was just 19 years old. In fact, the great idea led to him being named one of Brampton’s Top 40 Under 40 a couple of years ago.
Chatting to Wellness is a student-run, non-profit organization that fights senior isolation and loneliness to improve mental health. Since in-person visits aren’t possible right now, they just launched online chatting sessions to call seniors across Canada every weekday night to chat.
The organization hopes to reach out to more seniors across Canada who don’t have much access to family and friends during this time.
Statistics Canada compiled a list of data that during the COVID-19 pandemic that seniors were affected the most during social isolation. Data showed that 10 per cent of seniors ages 65 to 74 did not have any close friends as well as 15 per cent of those ages 75 and older. Social isolation can have a big impact on seniors’ mental health and well-being. They also noted that seniors isolated for a very long period of time are at a higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Local university groups are available to talk with seniors by phone every weekday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday. Phone calls are completely free and are for up to 45 minutes.
Seniors can sign up directly or have a family member sign up for a call on their behalf by visiting https://www.chattingtowellness.ca/phonechats.