Health Reports, July 2023
Two new articles are available in today's release of Health Reports.
Loneliness among older Canadians
Many factors such as gender and immigrant status have been associated with loneliness. However, less is known about how loneliness varies by gender and among immigrant subgroups of older Canadians (aged 65 years and older). A new study entitled "Immigrant status and loneliness among older Canadians," released today in Health Reports, addresses the gap using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey 2019/2020, which estimated 1.1 million (19%) older Canadians experienced loneliness, with women (23%) more likely to be lonely than men (15%).
Immigrants are more likely to be lonely than those born in Canada
Among older men, both European and non-European immigrants were more likely to experience loneliness than native-born Canadians, while among older women, this was the case only among European immigrants. Immigrants who arrived as adults (aged 18 to 44 years) and long-term immigrants (20 or more years in Canada since immigration) were at higher risk of loneliness than native-born Canadians. While this study did not address reasons for loneliness, it is possible that disruptions to social networks and stresses associated with living in a new country may contribute to the experience of loneliness among immigrants. Loneliness also varies by origin, age at immigration and time since immigration.
Understanding the association between immigrant status and loneliness among older Canadians is especially relevant because immigrants comprise 30% of the population aged 65 years and older compared with 23% of the total population. From 2016 to 2021, Canada's population living in private households grew by 5%, and immigrants accounted for 71% of that growth. The recent trends in increasing immigration make this study even more relevant to the current situation. Findings of this study highlight the importance of considering country of origin, age at immigration, time since immigration and gender in assessing loneliness among older Canadians.
Around 6 in 10 Canadians have access to household air conditioning
Air conditioning is one of the most effective approaches for reducing the health impacts of heat exposure. However, few studies have measured the prevalence of household air conditioning in Canada. Approximately 6 in 10 Canadians lived in a household with air conditioning in 2017. Household air conditioning prevalence varied considerably across the country: 85% of people living in Ontario had household air conditioning, 58% in Quebec, 49% in the Prairie region (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta), 38% in the Atlantic region (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and 32% in British Columbia.
Furthermore, the article "The prevalence of household air conditioning in Canada" shows that about 5 in 10 people living alone and 5 in 10 people who did not own a home had household air conditioning access. Both of these figures were significantly smaller than the national average. Among adults aged 65 years and older, a population with higher health risks due to heat exposure, those who lived alone (56%) were significantly less likely to have household air conditioning compared with all adults aged 65 years and older (62%).
This study used data from the 2017 Canadian Community Health Survey and the 2017 Households and the Environment Survey to understand the patterns of household air conditioning access among Canadians. It is the first to quantify air conditioning prevalence at the person level.
The articles "Immigrant status and loneliness among older Canadians" and " The prevalence of household air conditioning in Canada" are now available in the July 2023 online issue of Health Reports, Vol. 34, No. 7 (82-003-X).
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