Make this holiday season the best ever for Toronto seniors

Residents Aged 65 and Over is Expected to Double

For the first time in history, there are now more Torontonians over the age of 65 than children aged 15 and under. Looking ahead, the 500,000 plus Toronto residents aged 65 and over is expected to double to over a million residents by 2041. The City of Toronto has a long-time seniors advocate in Councillor Josh Matlow and The Honourable Raymond Cho is Minister of Seniors & Accessibility in Ontario. Yet there are still 15,000 seniors without the care they need in long term care facilities. So despite the recognition that more care is required for our elders, changes in health and home care are slow to be implemented. One organization, Home Instead Senior Care, is leading the charge in philanthropy for seniors to enable not-forprofit organizations in Toronto to provide more care to the seniors they serve.

Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada

The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada was established in 2017 to help enhance the lives of aging adults and those who care for them. In actual fact, the Foundation has provided grant funding to senior-focused registered charities in Canada since 2003 and since then $226,000 has been distributed through two signature programs – GIVE65 and Be a Santa to a Senior.

Bruce Mahony, Executive Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Central Toronto is also a founding director and trustee of the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada. “There are many not-for profit-organizations doing great work but with limited resources to serve our growing senior population,” says Mahony. “With our GIVE65 campaign, we hope to bring together Torontonians who care and charities that have an impact on the health and well-being of seniors.”

Expanding Charitable Giving

In honour of its 25th anniversary, Home Instead is expanding its charitable giving with GIVE65, which is an online giving platform committed to honouring seniors by partnering with registered charities that support seniors. This year alone, Home Instead has partnered with 17 organizations serving more than 230,000 seniors across Canada with a donation matching program. Participating charities provide a range of services to seniors, including transportation, meals and nutrition, low income housing, Alzheimer’s and dementia care and hospice care.

Be a Senior to a Santa

Be a Senior to a Santa has provided gifts for nearly 20 years to seniors who are alone at holiday time. Many of us assume that seniors have family and friends to help them or visit. But according to Statistics Canada data, as many as 1.4 million older Canadians report feeling lonely. The holidays are particularly hard for those who live independently and social isolation can often lead to social loneliness. This year, Home Instead is expanding Be a Santa to a Senior to enable companies and their employees to make charitable contributions, which will be matched by the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation. Recently, Great West Life and Rexall Drug initiated this change by partnering with 16 senior-focused organizations across Canada and raising thousands of dollars that were directed to charities serving seniors.

In addition to Home Instead’s GIVE65 and Be a Santa to a Senior, Mahony encourages all Torontonians to contribute in whatever manner they can to enrich the lives of seniors in our community.

“Social isolation can have a negative impact on a number of health conditions and can result in an increase in dementia and cognitive decline,” adds Mahony. “While connecting with seniors helps to prevent isolation, GIVE65 and Be a Santa to a Senior helps many more seniors in our community by supporting their services.” Mahony offers the following tips for family and friends to make this the best holiday season yet for the seniors around them.

Tips for Family and Friends

  1. Take a senior to tea. Going out for tea/coffee and a good conversation can make a huge difference in the person’s outlook and attitude.
  2. Make a meal and share it with your senior neighbour at their house or yours. Eating alone isn’t very appealing to many people and can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.
  3. Take neighbours and friends to their medical appointments and to do errands. Doctor visits can be overwhelming, particularly if there’s illness and medications involved. Having a second pair of hands (and ears) to absorb the outcome of the visit can be reassuring and ensures that the senior understands the next steps in their recovery or care.
  4. Encourage your children and grandchildren to put their volunteer hours into senior care. There’s nothing that will bring a smile to the face of a senior more than children and young adults.
  5. If you’re visiting a senior, bring them a treat they’ll enjoy such as a chocolate bar or ice cream or a magazine if their diet is restricted. Everyone likes to splurge every now and again.
  6. Use Facetime or Skype to enable a senior to visit family members in distant locations. The face to face interaction is quick and easy and much less expensive than a plane ticket!

Mary Ann Freedman works with Home Instead Senior Care and has over 25 years experience working with organizations who serve 50+ adults.