As COVID-19 continues to constrain our lives, seniors have been disproportionately impacted physically and emotionally. As a high-risk group, older adults are often secluded in name of physical safety, but this type of isolation can have unintended consequences. Research shows that social isolation and loneliness can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive decline, depression, and more. This is why organizations across Ontario have mobilized to keep older adults engaged with younger generations and their peers across the province.
Here are five services keeping seniors safe, social, and connected to their communities from the comfort of their own homes. Please note, none of these services are appropriate for a senior in crisis. If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health emergency, please dial 9-1-1, or seek a local crisis line in your area for support.
SSIPP is a national initiative with 12+ university chapters, started by students at the University of Toronto. The goal of the program is to improve seniors’ quality of life by enabling them to feel valued and socially connected. SSIPP provides:
- Social support and connection via phone conversations
- Technology training via video calls
- Health literacy
- Connection to community resources
- Grocery services
The University of Toronto chapter alone boasts 270+ health professional student volunteers. Healthcare providers and administrators are asked to refer older adults to their local chapters.
Seniors’ Centre Without Walls (SCWW) is a telephone-based service that provides the same type of programming as a traditional community hub, but from the comfort of home. The link above lists a directory of SCWWs as far north as Timiskaming and Thunder Bay. SCWWs provide:
- Health and wellness seminars
- Educational lectures
- Brain-stimulating activities
- The chance to listen to live music
- Group conversations
- New and meaningful friendships
Funded by the Older Adult Centres' Association of Ontario through the Government of Ontario, this type of programming is accessible both geographically and technologically.
Homecare Hub’s Senior Chat Line offers free telephone companionship services to any senior living in Canada. Whether you want to speak with someone on a weekly basis or only when you feel like it, you can always enjoy speaking to a friendly, familiar voice over the phone. Request a call Mondays through Fridays, 9:00am to 5:00pm EST.
Brantford was recognized as an age-friendly community by The World Health Organization in 2017, and received the Ontario Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award in 2018.... And we can see why! Programs like ‘Buzz Me’ keep seniors connected through friendly conversation.
Seniors in Brantford can connect with a volunteer between 8am-8pm Monday through Friday by dialling 1-866-999-Buzz (2899). Volunteers are trained to engage with seniors in a warm and relaxed manner while seeking to provide opportunities for meaningful connection.
A Friendly Voice is a chat-line service designed to provide a connection for seniors who may be feeling lonely or isolated. The service is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and run by Rural Ottawa South Support Services (ROSSS).
According to their website, “Friendly Voice volunteers are empathetic, supportive and available for callers. Through their conversations, volunteers will encourage and support callers to engage with their community. If requested, volunteers can assist the senior by providing contact information for local services and programs from publicly accessible information sources.”
Maggie Clapperton is a social worker and content creator at Homecare Hub.