Study examines seniors' feelings of loss, grief, isolation

November 12, 2014

Dr. Nuelle Novik is taking a look at health needs for rural seniors in the province that go beyond the physical.

For the one-year project, Exploring Emotional and Mental Healthcare Supports for Seniors in Rural Saskatchewan, she and the research team will be looking at seniors’ feelings of isolation, grief and loss, as well as mental health issues and how they might be able to stay connected to their communities.

It is being funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Red Cross.

The team will collaborate on the community-based research (CBR) with seniors and those that work with, or support, seniors living in small towns and rural areas to learn about their challenges and what helps them feel connected. It will focus on Sunrise Health Region in Saskatchewan and include people who live in and around Preeceville and Norquay, as well as those in areas around Ituna and Melville. Almost 22 per cent of the Sunrise region’s population is made up of people 65 and over, compared with 14.87 per cent for the province as a whole.

The project includes team members in Yorkton, such as older adults and people from within Sunrise Health Region that work in fields like psychiatry, mental health and addictions, and integrated primary health.

There are also two Community Advisory Committees, one for Preeceville and Norquay and another for Melville and Ituna.

So far, the team has been conducting interviews with older adults from the rural communities in two waves. They are also meeting with focus groups made up of people that work or volunteer with seniors.

Following the interview and focus group meetings, the information will help identify the challenges that the seniors face in rural communities. So far this fall, the project has produced a newsletter to keep its partners informed.

The provincial division of the Canadian Red Cross is also interested in potential program development and is providing some initial funding for a second phase to the project.


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