In recent years, the entire world has been experiencing a shift of triumphant aging. In the case of Canada, the aging population is in a continuous state of growth as the country records the highest number of people who are above 65 years (Sloane-Seale & Kops, 2017). Explicitly, the city of Toronto, with a dense and diverse population, has led the older people to experience unique barriers that have impeded their life quality. This is the case because the ageing of human beings is bound inextricably to the loss in the functioning of various health aspects such as cognitive, physical, and social roles and contacts (Tate et al., 2016).
However, the majority of the elderly have indicated that the losses do not necessarily threaten their wellbeing. It is because of the paradoxical findings that the political and scientific arena has had discussions over the years about successful aging (Fante-Coleman & Jackson-Best, 2020). The popularity of this phrase has grown in the past few decades as those who age become interested to know what they expect, what to avoid, and the best ways of adoption.
The focus on successful aging has attracted the question of how to age well. The pioneers of this term, Rowe and Kahn, identified three main factors, including high cognitive and physical abilities, free from disease or disability, and meaningful interaction with others (Alkire et al., 2017). Social health has been defined as crucial to the aging population (Low et al., 2016). Previous research has established that interventions such as peer social networks and facilitated education programs are significant in helping the seniors to build their strengths, optimize their wellness and play an essential role when it comes to prevention of the age-onset depression (Horvitz-Lennon et al., 2016).
There are various examples of social networks that help to boost the wellbeing of senior people in the city of Toronto, which include the seniors’ speakers’ bureau (SSB), which is funded by the Canadian Pensioners Concerned (Aminzadeh & Dalziel, 2012). All these programs target the people with older ages to ensure they stay health.
Another social network for the aged includes the Connecting Seniors of Canada sponsored by the University of Toronto through the Institute for Life Course and Aging. These networks are essential in promoting good experience between the older adult and others (Forsman et al., 2018). Social health programming is necessary because it helps bring older adults together in groups and help them learn to nurture their inherent creative abilities and adapt to changes as they control their lives (Lowes, 2019). As a result of these social interventions towards senior adults in Toronto, many older Canadians live longer together with limited psychosocially related issues due to the risk of social isolation (Spinney et al., 2020)). This paper examines successful aging in the City of Toronto through the social interventions that have increased the psychosocial relationship between older adults and others.
Various programs are related to the social health of older adults in the City of Toronto. The research involved the search and identity of these programs from the various sources through Google search. The search involves websites for various organizations, including the Toronto Public Health through their website, www.toronto.ca/ and the Ontario Chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA ON). Information was also obtained from organizations such as the Centre for Social Connectedness, National Seniors Strategy, and 2016 Census, Toronto, City.
The search involved entering keywords in the Google search engine such as the older adults, successfully aging, social health, social programs, aging interventions, increasing lifespan, psychosocial support, senior members, social welfare, wellbeing, and the retired members, among others. The criteria were defined to ensure that programs were not left out in the search. The accepted program included all those focusing on older adults above 65 years. For a program to be accepted, its nature should be social because it was dealing with the relationship between older adults with others. It also had to be practiced and concerned about the older adults in the City of Toronto. The information for each program included was recorded in tables.
Table 1: Programs.
|Programs||Location||Promotion/mission||Claims||Synonyms||Participants actions||Staffs credentials||Pictures/graphics||Fees & subsidies||Age||Transportation|
|Seniors social time||Toronto (Stonegate—Queensway)||To offer occasional outings between luncheon dates (Statistics Canada, 2019)||Every third Thursday of the month from October to May Hwang et al., 2018)||Luncheon program||Congregate dining||n/a||n/a||None||65 years||Outreach for seniors too ill to attend (Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, 2020)|
|Stroke Survivors Adult Day Program||Toronto (Moss Park)||Helps to support family caregivers who provide day-to-day care||People that experienced a stroke in a group setting for part of the day||Adult Day Program||Adults with disabilities who experienced a stroke||Therapeutic skills||n/a||$10 per day * subsidy available||65 years||Participant’s cost|
|Etrog Club||North York||Offering lectures, discussions on current events, updates, social games, music (Implementing Tenants First, 2019)||Special celebrations of Jewish holidays and heritage (Mac, 2017)||Learning program||Hebrew speaking||Skills in speaking Hebrew||n/a||Set fee * call for details||65 years||Participant’s cost|
|Lifelong Learning Institute||North York||Enlighten about arts and culture, history, current events, religion, travel, and more (Lowes, 2019a). ||n/a||Weekly learning programs||Experts in their field or university professors||Discussion group, workshops and lectures||n/a||Set fee * Fee Reduction for members||65 years||Participant’s cost|
|Boomers Club||Toronto (Yonge-Eglinton)||Create informal connections among people who are on the same journey while engaging in a variety of recreational activities||n/a||Social program||Clients living with dementia||n/a||Free||Over 65 years||Outreach for seniors too ill to attend|
Common Patterns in the Results
Table 1 shows the various programs that are provided in the City of Toronto for older adults. The identified programs include seniors’ Social Time, Stroke Survivors’ Adult Day Program, Etrog Club, Lifelong Learning Institute, and Boomers Club. The identified program shows some common pattern because they are all created towards social and recreation for the older adults in the city (City of Toronto, 2019). This is suggested by the time indicated within when the events are held; that is, most programs are conducted on a day to day basis (Sadavoy et al., 2014). This means that most of the participants have to travel to the locations where the events are happening every day they are required to be available.
From those provided in table 1, four of them are conducted daily, which include seniors’ Social Time, Stroke Survivors’ Adult Day Program, and Boomers Club; only two go for more than one week, they are Etrog Club, Lifelong Learning Institute. The fact that these programs require daily or weekly activities shows the interest put forth by the Toronto Public Health to support the social wellbeing of the aging population to increase their life span (Brown et al., 2017).
The major focus of the sponsors of these programs, as highlighted by the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, is to facilitate the social life of the adults who often get isolated as they age (Koehn, 2019). People in older ages cannot easily move around which subjects them to isolation in the community (Social planning Toronto, 2020). Holding social events daily or weekly allows them to move out of the home regularly to interact with the rest.
A common pattern that emerges in the Table1 is that most of the older adults who attend these social and recreation events have other ailments. The findings reflected in the literature review associate old age with health complications such as chronic diseases (Hollander & Walker, 2018). As people get older, their immune weakness and mobility become limited; they cannot engage in activities that make them stronger (Toronto Central Behavioural Supports Ontario, 2020). Table 1 identifies the social programs which not only reduce social isolation but rather help older adults improve their health. For instance, the Stroke Survivors Adult Day Program targets older adults with disabilities who experienced a stroke, while Boomers Club targets those clients living with dementia.
Similarly, a pattern is observed in Table 1 that most of the programs identified involve several activities and services that are offered rather than just a single service activity (Wynne & Damerla, 2017). The significance of this is that the number of aging people continues to increase in Canada in particular. This aspect reflects the findings by the National Seniors Council, which has estimated 16% of the seniors in Canada experience social isolation (Seniors Services, 2020). Thus, many services indicated in Table 1 is a replication of the current situation experienced around the world and Canada in particular.
Barriers and Facilitators to Programs
Research has identified multiple programs related to improving the health of older adults in Ontario and the City of Toronto in particular. However, these programs are subject to barriers that limited their intended purpose. For example, the increasing number of older people in society is a threat to the success of these barriers in supporting this population and helps them enhance their health (Barrington-Bush, 2018). With a large number, the resources available will be scarce to cater to the entire population. Similarly, there are modern programs that have emerged, such as Etrog Club that offer lectures, discussions on current events, updates, social games, and music (Lowes, 2019a). The barrier associated with this is that the staff needed in such programs should be professionals with knowledge of handling older people. However, getting the required number of professionals who are professors may be a challenge.
On the other hand, there are various facilitators to these programs that present their benefits. One facilitator is associated with the increased support by Toronto through its Central Local Health Integration Network and the federal government. The support offers the financial and regulatory resources to have these programs run smoothly (Shillington, 2016). The community, including the transport sector, the church, and private groups, has come together to boost the position of the elderly in society. This enhances the efforts made through such programs so that older adults are supported.
Suggestions for the Future
Suggestions can be made to improve the future to address the health issues of older adults in Toronto. There is a need for all and many players to come together in future planning, resource mobilization, and commitments to address the issue of older adults increasing population. Similarly, a system should be developed to meet the needs of those older adults who go beyond 85 years to lower on straining available resources.
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