Make this holiday season the best ever for Toronto seniors

Home Instead Toronto is expanding its charitable giving with GIVE65

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.

Senior Care Plan – Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future - Senior Care Plan

Senior Care Plan – By Mary Ann Freedman

Conversations between Older Adults and Their Adult Children Are Needed

Today many Canadians are preparing to live a long life. Average life expectancy has grown from 68 in 1950 to 81 today. Canadian smokers have steadily declined. Many people are working longer. Others are finding ways to look younger.

But how many people you know are preparing for how they live the last 10 to 15 years of their lives? Not enough.

The facts don’t lie. Research shows that if you reach 85, you have a 50/50 chance of having dementia. And that means you probably won’t be able to handle your finances or pay bills; you may not remember whether you’ve had lunch or taken your medication; and your affable manner may be replaced with emotional outbursts.

According to a new survey by Home Instead Inc., while 73 percent of seniors have a written will, only 13 percent have actually made arrangements for long term care.  (senior care plan)

“When planning for their later years, many people go straight to making funeral arrangements and financial plans rather than taking time to prepare for care that might be necessary,” says Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care. “Unfortunately, many people do not consider that as we age, we need extra care. While most seniors prefer to age at home, they may not realize the range of options available to them, and that this time in their lives requires planning, too.”

The survey also revealed that that aging parents are far more comfortable discussing their plans for their final years (89 percent) than adult children are discussing their parent’s plans (68 percent).

So how do families plan for the demands of a longer life?

Senior Care Plan

  1. Accept that ‘Older Adult’ is a new phase with new realities and needs much like the ‘teenage’ years, mid-life and empty nester years.
  2. Be astute and recognize changes in attitude and abilities that you observe in an older adult for what they are – an opportunity to do things differently, rather than as the potential loss of freedom and independence.
  3. Decide where you want to live and what you can afford. Are you a ‘people person’ and want to live in a community or retirement residence with other people? Or do you want to live in your own home with some extra help? According to CARP, 93% of seniors in Canada live at home and want to stay there as long as possible. However, Home Instead found that only 74 % of seniors have shared their wishes with their adult children.
  4. Select a close friend or family member to be the substitute decision maker if you’re unable to communicate or make informed decisions. And different people can be selected because of their strengths in different areas. For example one person may handle the financial affairs and pay bills, while another makes health-related decisions.
  5. Prepare the documents – Ensure that your will, Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POA), life insurance, inheritance are up to date.
  6. Share your plan with a close friend or family member who can step in as a substitute decision maker when you’re unable to do so. And give them the information they need. Consider having a family meeting where you can share your documents and contact information for your closest advisors (legal, financial, doctor) with adult children.
  7. Explore ways of covering the cost of increased care and other needs as you age in place. What resources are available from the government? Explore extended health, long term care and other insurance to help cover the cost of special drugs, home care, physio, assistive devices to name a few.
  8. All good plans require good research. If you don’t know what your options are, engage your family and friends to help. The more they know, the better able they will be able to implement your plan.
  9. Engage in continuous learning. Explore activities that will help you stay active both physically and mentally. You may need to replace your weekly tennis or golf game with bridge or a walking club.

Mary Ann Freedman works with Home Instead Senior Care and has over 20 years experience working with organizations who serve 50+ adults.

For more information about a senior care plan, call Bruce Mahony at 416-972-5096 or use the contact form.

Are you a Family Caregiver?

Lisa and Bruce Mahony were on the cover and inside of: Neighbours of Yorkville and the Annex this month about being a caregiver.

Advice to help you cope and stay healthy as a caregiver

Much is being written about caring for a loved one, but there is hardly a topic more complicated and heartbreaking than this caregiver topic for many Canadians. Whether your loved one is recuperating from an illness or surgery, has been diagnosed with cancer, or has a chronic condition such as dementia many families are asking themselves, what does it mean to care for my loved one?

It may range from taking that person to medical appointments to helping them with such necessities of life as bathing and dressing, making meals and monitoring medication, or even serving as a companion so that they stay engaged and don’t slide downhill.

Acting as a caregiver can be tough, but it’s an important and necessary role as we help loved ones recuperate or manage their care. For many people caring for a loved one is a meaningful and gratifying experience. For others it can be daunting and a highly frustrating and demanding challenge.

“At Home Instead we see families who are torn apart caring for loved ones,” reveals Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto. “While the primary caregiver may feel over-burdened, other family members may feel ignored or helpless if they can’t be around as much as they would like.”

Often siblings or adult grandchildren have their own views on what’s best for their loved one. One solution is for each member to own one area of care (medical, personal care, finances), thereby empowering each family member with responsibility while also alleviating some of the demand.

“Caring for someone when you don’t live close by and can’t be there regularly is another challenge we often encounter,” said Mahony. “Home Instead caregivers can visit for a few hours a week, take your loved one out for a meal, to appointments, or run errands.”

Even with assistance, the challenge for caregivers is they become consumed with taking care of their loved one and neglect to care for themselves. Understandably self-care is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for your loved one.

To keep from burning out, make sure you:

  • Eat healthfully – Comfort foods may make you feel better in the moment, but a balanced and healthy diet will help you maintain your energy over the long-term.
  • Exercise regularly – While it may feel like a chore, exercise releases endorphins and helps your body fight stress.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep – A full 8 hours every night may not always be possible, but protecting your sleep should be a priority. If your sleep is interrupted and you need to take a nap during the day, do not exceed short, 15-20 minute naps or you’ll find it difficult to sleep through the night.
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well – You’re of no help to anyone if you’re not feeling well and your body will take longer to recover if you don’t allow it to fight off illness.
  • Keep up to date on your medical appointments – Your health is just as important as your loved-one’s. Don’t ignore warning signs and make sure to speak with your doctor about your own health challenges.
  • Take care of your own emotional and mental health – Caregivers often put themselves under tremendous pressure and taking care of your mental health is important. Home Instead offers links ( and online tools to help you assess your stress level and methods to cope with caregiver stress, allowing your family caregiving role to be more rewarding. Another great resource is CAMH (

“It’s tough for many people to talk about, but caregivers face depression, resentment and guilt as they travel the journey with their loved one,” said Mahony. “As a caregiver you build support networks around your loved ones, but you need to build a support network for yourself too.”

For more information, call Bruce Mahony at 416-972-5096 or use the contact form.

Working Women Experience Stigma Due to Caregiving

New Research Reveals Working Women Experience Stigma Due to Caregiving - Senior In Home Care Toronto

New Research Reveals Working Women Experience Stigma Due to Caregiving

Home Instead Senior Care Offers Resources to Support Employees Caring for Aging Parents

By Mary Ann Freedman Home Instead Senior Care

Stigma Due to Caregiving: A new survey found that half of working female caregivers feel they have to choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter. In addition, 25% of working daughters report a workplace stigma associated with being a caregiver for an aging parent, and 23% have found that their supervisor is unsympathetic, according to Home Instead Inc.

In an effort to start a conversation about how working family caregivers can be better supported in the workplace, Home Instead Senior Care has launched a new public education program, Daughters in the WorkplaceSM. The new program offers free resources to help educate working family caregivers on how to work with their employers to address some of the challenges they face.

“Often, we see working caregivers who feel that they have to make a choice between work and their aging loved one,” said Bruce Mahony, Managing Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto. “They are often unaware of what resources are available and how to navigate those conversations with their employer.”

Home Instead offers the following tips to family caregivers to help relieve stress and achieve better balance.

  1. Be realistic. Take time to understand how much you can do to take care of a loved one, do well at your job, and stay healthy.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. Be honest with yourself and your employer about the issues you are facing and what you need. Create a plan that contains ways you can complete your work and still meet your loved one’s needs.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Think about ways you can enhance the quality of your sleep. This will help you handle life’s daily challenges.
  4. Ask for help including respite care. Sometimes a little help goes a long way. Check with your employer about any backup emergency care services your company might offer through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Some do. Think about ways others could help you. If you have family nearby, they may be able to help, or check with your local Home Instead Senior Care® office ( to learn how professional caregiving could help you.
  5. Look for ways to give back. If your employer offers flexibility and help, think about ways to do something extra and, step up to the plate!

Home Instead Senior Care provides non-medical in-home care services for seniors in their homes and in retirement and care residences in Central Toronto. Care can range from a few hours per week up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information you can reach Bruce Mahony in the neighbourhood at 21 Belmont Street or call 416 972 5096.

Stigma Due to Caregiving

Between March 21 and 28, 2017, 1,001 working female caregivers, aged 45-60, were surveyed in Canada and the United States by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network.

Aging in Place With a Little Help

Seniors aging in place, downtown residences

Shared Living as an Aging In Place Housing Option

A growing number of baby boomers are turning to shared living as an aging in place housing option.

According to this article from the

Seniors without the support network of family members or caregivers who are still intent on aging in place might find inspiration from the 1980’s sitcom “The Golden Girls.” Turns out, the over 50 television roommates Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund and Dorothy Zbornak were on to something – living together in retirement in their fictional Miami home – that shared senior living can be an affordable, safe and comfortable living arrangement.

As a matter of fact, a growing number of baby boomers are turning to shared living as an aging in place housing option. A 2014 AARP analysis of census data found approximately 132,000 households and 490,000 women over the age of 50 living with non-romantic peers. According to other stats compiled by AARP, one-out-of-three baby boomers will face old age without a spouse, women, on average, live about five years longer than men and since 1990, the overall divorce rate for the 50-plus demographic has doubled.

“One of the things I like the most is that when I walk in at night somebody says ‘how was your day?’ and there’s someone there to chit chat with,” says Bonnie Moore, founder of the Golden Girls Network in Bowie, Maryland near Baltimore. The company connects older women across the country and helps them find roommates in their area through a national database.

Moore, 70, started Golden Girls Network after divorcing her husband in 2008 and simultaneously losing all the equity in her five-bedroom home during one of the worst recessions in U-S history. The retired lawyer now lives with three roommates and plans to stay in her house for as long as possible.

“At that point in 2008, it was not a common thing for mature women to be living together but it was something I needed to do to save my house,” says Moore. “I realized there were a lot of women like me – middle aged, suddenly divorced and with not enough money. Women in my age group expected to be married and have a house with white picket fence and everything would be rosy. But that has not been happening for us.”

Golden Girls Network launched its database in 2014 and has registered 1,240 people in 48 states. Two-thirds of those want to be roommates and about a third have homes available.

“You don’t want to be alone. Loneliness is probably one of the biggest factors in having difficulties as you age in place,” says Moore. “There are physical factors like getting sick or falling down and you need someone to call an ambulance for you or take you to the emergency room. It’s just very difficult to navigate the older you get. And so the value of having roommates is that there’s someone there if you need them.”

Moore’s written a book called How to Start a Golden Girls Home with tips to help make your home attractive to roommates, questions to ask in a roommate interview and other advice and guidance about seniors sharing homes.

Another aging in place innovation is happening in the Baby Boomer capital of the US – Denver, Colorado – where Boomers make up nearly 33-percent of the city’s total population of 2.4 million people. A Little Help uses the ‘Village’ model by connecting people who live nearby as neighbors whether they are aging in place or not. The program promotes interdependence across generations.

Being Part of the Mix in Their Neighborhoods

“One of the reasons folks want to age in place is because they want to be part of the mix in their neighborhoods and places they’ve chosen to live. And in the mix means there’s a mixture of folks,” says A Little Help Executive Director Paul Ramsey. “Elder care facilities are very homogeneous and Denver – like Baltimore and Austin – is extremely gentrified, so there are people who’ve lived on the same street for 50 or 60 years who don’t know anyone on their block. We partner with schools, scout troops and professional organizations to help make introductions to seniors in particular area.”

A Little Help’s Teen Team program also pairs middle and high school students with aging in place seniors who share their experience, wisdom and life stories with the students. The teens build relationships with their senior neighbors while helping with household chores, yard work or technology.

“Our elders know they have wisdom to share, a story to tell and a skill set to give to the younger generation. And for the teens, it’s an experience they’re not getting anywhere else. I think that has injected a huge amount of energy and reciprocity into the community.”

Research conducted in areas around the world where people live the longest shows that those who live longer, healthier lives do so by having close relationships with neighbors and by constantly finding new purpose as they grow older.

“There are several people who are in their late 70’s or early 80’s who are some of our best volunteers and staff. The give and take makes them feel essential,” says Ramsey.

A Little Help also connects senior members with a variety of services such as transportation, landscaping and home repair by coordinating vetted service providers and neighbor volunteers.

In August, Colorado’s governor announced formation of a Strategic Planning Group on Aging Issues. The group’s goal is to identify resources to help meet the needs of the state’s aging population in areas of housing, healthcare, diversity and transportation.