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La participation sociale des personnes aînées montréalaises : Données fondées sur des expériences vécues et recommandations

This resource is available in French only.

In 2015, the Montreal Regional Public Health Department identified the health of older people as a priority and launched a project to identify and describe the determinants of healthy aging. The goal of the project was to promote social participation and prevent social isolation among older adults in Montreal.

In a series of 15 discussion groups, people aged 56 to 98 were asked questions related to social participation, activities with others, experiences of stigma and discrimination in social settings, and priorities for social inclusion.

Based on the lived expertise of older adults explored in the discussion groups, this report informs a vision for social participation, community engagement, collaboration, and implementation of shared knowledge to enhance social inclusion of older adults.

A framework for social participation of older adults was developed for use in public health programs and by decision- and policymakers.

The framework describes:

Influencers of social participation: individual, societal, and socioeconomic factors as well as physical and social environments.

Forms of social participation: interactions with loved ones, individual social activities, group activities, work and volunteering, community engagement, and advocacy for social issues.

Pros of social participation: physical and cognitive benefits, emotional wellbeing, and satisfaction with social and work participation.

Outcomes of lack of social engagement: older adults feeling disengaged, isolated, distressed, and excluded from processes and opportunities.

Structural facilitators: organizational factors (e.g., proximity and availability of services), neighborhood characteristics (e.g., living conditions, climate, and geography), physical and economic environments, and other social factors (e.g., culture, demographics, ageism). Structural factors influence social participation through transportation, technology, and individual integration in programs.

Adaptive capacity: Mediates between social participation and predisposing factors that determine participation of older people in society. Include sociodemographic characteristics (e.g. gender, living conditions, age, and immigration status), personal characteristics, periods of transition (e.g. relocation, identity, work), and health (e.g. mobility, physical conditions, mental health).

The report outlines eight recommendations that can guide public health to enhance social participation of older adults, based on the direct feedback from those who were interviewed.

  1. Reframe social participation as a determinant of health
  2. Act to eliminate ageism
  3. Encourage activism and community engagement among older adults
  4. Proactively address barriers for older adults living in conditions of marginalization and vulnerability
  5. Promote services that connect people to opportunities for social participation
  6. Explore co-living arrangements and alternative housing options
  7. Support outreach interventions to identify and engage older adults
  8. Improve individual and neighborhood living conditions


Use this resource to:

  • facilitate discussion around how social inclusion and participation influences the health of older adults,
  • develop processes to engage authentically with older adults in your community to address barriers to social inclusion and participation, and
  • identify priorities for your organization to address the social and structural factors that influence the health equity of older adults.


Alignment with NCCDH work:

Exploring public health action to pursue health equity for an aging population is a key focus for NCCDH. Our team does this by naming and addressing the unique determinants of older adult health.

In 2022 the NCCDH and Health Promotion Canada collaborated on the Webinar Series: Promoting Health for Older Adults based on the book Promoting the health of older adults: The Canadian experience. This webinar series explored healthy policy, supportive environments, community action, personal skills and health services to address health inequities in aging populations.

In 2023, our latest Learning from Practice case study: Promoting wellbeing and health equity among older adults summarizes the key equity themes that arose in the webinar 2022 series and a workshop that was held on the same topic.

See other resources relating to health equity for older adults.


Lemieux, V. & Lebel, P. (2022). La participation sociale des personnes aînées montréalaises : Données fondées sur des expériences vécues et recommandations. Direction régionale de santé publique du CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

Tags: Older Adults, Government, Document, Report / Document