The majority of neighbourhoods in North Toronto have a higher proportion of seniors living alone compared to the rest of the Toronto Central LHIN. One neighbourhood in particular, Mount Pleasant West, stands above them all. There, a whopping 58% of seniors live alone.

Now, there are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, one could be alarmed and see this as an issue that needs addressing. On the other hand, one could take comfort in the fact that so many are able to live independently, a testiment to the work of organizations like SPRINT Senior Care and Student Assistance In North Toronto For Seniors (SAINTS). But as you’ll see below, neither of these over-simplified narratives sufficiently tells the story.

This portrait series takes you into the lives of two seniors, 92 and 103 years young. Watch and listen as the series explores the themes of family, friendship, loneliness, and the struggle to remain independent.

Ms. Frances

She’s 91 years of age. She never married, and has lived on her own most of her life. And old age isn’t going to change either of those things, she assured me. But she does need a bit more help to live on her own. She gets baths twice a week through home care, and visits from a doctor doing house calls. But that’s only part of the help she needs. Through SAINTS, her apartment is regularly frequented by high school students from the neighbourhood. They help her with cleaning and odd jobs. But as I learned, they are much more than that; they offer her the kind of intergenerational connection that’s been missing in her life.

Mr. Kwok

He’s 103 years of age, and one of the many seniors living in supportive housing in the Mount Pleasant West neighbourhood. Supportive housing is a combination of a rent-geared-to-income apartment operated by Toronto Community Housing and a basket of seniors services provided by, in this case, SPRINT Senior Care. The organization has supportive housing clients in four different buildings in Mount Pleasant West, serving close to 160 seniors, including Mr. Kwok. It’s one of the reasons why this neighbourhood is able to support so many seniors to live alone. But that’s only part of the story.