Connect to Services to Help You Age In Place. Call 2-1-1.

Most Canadians aged 55 or older want to live at home as long as possible, according to Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics and Provincial Lead, Ontario’s Seniors Strategy in a TEDxStouffville video on Building Age Friendly Communities. Our population has never lived so long so as a society we are learning what seniors need.

Aging undoubtedly brings its own challenges and to stay in your own home will often require a combination of formal home care, informal help from a spouse, family, friends or neighbour, and community support programs. In addition, more than of third of Canadians will be living alone when they are 75 or older which can have an affect on a seniors’ financial status, housing affordability, degree of isolation and wellbeing, according to the report Health Care in Canada, 2011: A Focus on Seniors and Aging by the Canadian Institute for Health Care.

With the variety of government and community programs and services in Ontario, an older adult has the opportunity to do more than just fill in the days. Often the biggest challenge is learning what programs exist in a community and how to access them. That is why the 211 helpline is here for every Ontario resident, including older adults. Simply call 2-1-1 from anywhere in Ontario, any time of the day and night, to investigate local programs. 211 Specialists can help you explore options near you and explain how to access services many of which are free or low cost for older adults. 211 helped over 178,000 older adults find services in 2014.

211 Specialists understand that many older adults don’t want to make a fuss, want to help themselves and not be a burden on family and friends. We are great tool to help you explore services and get help for many of those things that challenge you. The range of services, be they government, municipal or community funded, means the front door shouldn’t be the limit of the world for a senior.

There are thousands of programs to enjoy, ways to continue to contribute to Ontario and to stay an advocate for yourself and others. Ontario’s community programs and services also offer options for the challenges of aging if you are willing to ask for and accept help. Communities are actively planning how to adapt to Canada’s aging populations and many are engaged in age-friendly city initiatives. Call 2-1-1 to find health services, formal home care supports and community support programs near you. At the end of the story are YouTube videos from some of Ontario’s community and social services explaining the services described in this article.

New or Expanded Health Care Programs

Community Paramedicine Program

The newest program in Ontario for at risk seniors and those with chronic health conditions is the Community Paramedicine Program. There are 30 programs in Ontario which provide home visits to seniors and high needs patients to help them with a range of services such as ensuring they are taking the medication as prescribed, referrals to local services and educating patients on managing their chronic conditions. People who call 911 for assistance frequently, such as seniors who need help after falling and those with chronic conditions, may be referred to the community paramedicine program by the paramedics.

Physiotherapy Services

The government also provides government funded physiotherapy services to help older adults recover from illness, surgery or injury. Seniors aged 65 or older will need to contact their doctor or nurse practitioner, those age 65 who require in-home physiotherapy will need to contact their Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). Call 211 for your CCAC phone number. Older adults 65 or older in a retirement or a long-term care home will need to contact their doctor or nurse practitioner on staff. See link for publicly funded physiotherapy clinic locations:

Community Health Links are expanding

A Health Link is a team of health care providers from different organizations in a geographic area working together to provide coordinated health care to patients with multiple complex conditions – often seniors – with the patient at the centre. Providers design a care plan for each patient and work together with patients and their families to ensure they receive the care they need. There are more than 69 Health Links already and more are planned.

Seniors Mental Health

Depression is not normal as we age. Seek help quickly because depression is treatable and reversible. More than 10% of the Canadian population experience depression. For older adults, challenges such as retirement, changes in income, widowhood, the loss of friendships through death, and new caregiving responsibilities can lead to social and emotional challenges. There is help available, please talk your family doctor or call 2-1-1 to find mental health supports near you.

Caregiver and Respite Support

The distress experienced by informal caregivers extends into their paid working hours. More than half of women (55%) and almost half of men (45%) providing informal care reported repercussions at their place of employment, according to the study Health Care in Canada, 2011: A Focus on Seniors and Aging by the Canadian Institute for Health Care. For example, caregivers reported that they had to change their work patterns or work hours, or decline promotions or job transfers to accommodate their informal caregiving responsibilities.

Caregivers can call 2-1-1 to find a range support services and respite care near them. Help can range from home health care, to personal support workers to respite services, most of which are accessible with the help of Community Care Access Centres and other support services in the community.

Home Health Services and Community Support Programs

Home health services include nursing, as well as physical, occupational and respiratory therapy, which are all delivered by licensed health professionals. Home support services include assistance with activities such as homemaking and personal care. Home care may also include provision of adult day programs, meal services, home maintenance and repair, transportation and respite services. A variety of professionals—such as nurses, physiotherapists and social workers—provide home care. But the majority of home care providers are home support workers—home health aides, personal support workers, personal care workers and home health attendants.

Physical Activity

Almost a third of retired people have reported that they retired earlier than they wanted to and two thirds of these said health challenges were the reason for early retirement, according to a 2014 Study on Retirement Readiness by the Conference Board of Canada

Being active before and during retirement can help ensure you have the stamina to enjoy your retirement. Every community has drop in programs and programs requiring registration provided by the town,city or a communnity agency. Membership in these programs is sometimes free or very affordable and many are accessible for those with disabilities. They offer programs year round and the range of fitness programs is staggering. From cardio fit, yoga, walking, tai chi, sculpting, curling, softball, dancing, swimming, skiing, hiking to programs for exercising with health challenges like osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s and stroke survivors, to name a few.

The annual Senior Games in Ontario also give older adults a chance to continue to compete in games. In 2016 the games are in Brampton. The Senior Games include 8-ball, badminton, cribbage, darts, five pin bowling, golf, ice curling, ice hockey, scrabble, slo-pitch, swimming, tennis and track and field, to name a few.

To find recreation programs, call 2-1-1 or visit your city’s website. See the links below to Fall/Winter Recreation Guides specifically for older adults 55 years of age and older from some communities across Ontario.

Barrie Seniors 55+

Brampton 55+ Fall Activity Guide

Hamilton 55+ Programming






Richmond Hill


Sault Ste. Marie

Thunder Bay




The 211 helpline has over 300 volunteer and other transportation services for seniors to medical appointments, grocery shopping or other appointments in the database. The Government of Ontario is also launching a new pilot program to improve community transportation services for seniors, persons living with disabilities, youth, and other members of the community who need transportation. By providing funds to municipalities to partner with community organizations, such as health and community agencies, transit agencies, school-bus operators and private transit operators, to co-ordinate local transportation services, so more rides can be provided to more people, and to more destinations.

Social Participation and Continuous Learning

Seniors programs and centres also provide numerous activities to enjoy, to stay mentally engaged and involved with your community. Community services also provide advocacy opportunities for people with lived experience to participate in evolving programs and services in Ontario to meet the needs of an aging population through outreach and speaking presentations. There are also community support services that offer accompaniment to appointments, church, outings, or provide security checks and friendly visitors to lonely seniors.

The range of programs at Older Adult or Senior Centres or offered by the city is too numerous to list all of them, so here are a few: art clubs, book clubs, card clubs, craft clubs, cooking, woodworking, billiards, dance classes, learning a new language, computer classes, social media classes and classes to learn to use smartphones and iPads, to mention a few. Call 2-1-1 to find Older Adult Centres near you.

Seniors’ Centres and other community organizations also provide workshops throughout the year to educate and raise awareness about different causes and issues of relevance to an aging population. Many centres provide workshops on recognizing elder abuse, scams and fraud targeting seniors, health care topics and more. Local libraries also provide a range of presentations, computer learning and community outreach events to explore throughout the year. Many libraries also offer visiting libraries for older adults who cannot physically get around.

Volunteer Work and Service Clubs

Older adults contribute more than a billion volunteer hours every year in Canada. Volunteering provides health benefits, offers significant physical, emotional and cognitive or brain health benefits. It also enhances social support social inclusion and civic engagement, according to the Volunteer Canada, Volunteering and Older Adults report of 2013. Service Clubs such as the Lions Club, Rotary Club or Kiwanis also provide an opportunity to be involved in local and national events and issues. Call 2-1-1 for your local volunteer centre or service clubs contact information near you.


Community Paramedicine video

Health Links video

Community Care Access Centre video

Personal Support Worker video

Day Program for a senior with dementia video

Elder friendly hospital and community video

Age Friendly Thunder Bay

Age Friendly City video on Zoomer News

Caregiver tips

Seniors Mental Health

Understanding late-life depression
Learn about late-life depression in this detailed overview by Dr. Robert Madan, psychiatrist with Baycrest Health Sciences.

Story of Don – A story of late-life depression after unexpected retirement.

Story of Evelyn – A story of major depression in late life, including a suicide attempt.

Lions Club International Convention Highlights 2014: Toronto

AGE-WELL: technology for aging adults by University Health Network

Transportation services for seniors

Aging At Home – Zoomermedia News

Reliable Living Centre – Zoomermedia News\

Seniors program in Ottawa

Fraud Awareness Grandparent Scam

Meals on Wheels

Senior Recreation Programs

Seniors’ Centre

A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors

Click here for A Guide to Programs and Service for Seniors in Ontario which is produced by the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat. This guide is also produced in the following languages and can be found at the link above: Arabic, Chinese – Simplified, Farsi, French, Gujarti, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese.

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