Helping seniors leave the home they’ve lived in for decades isn’t easy. “They second-guess themselves right up to the day of the move,” says Gunton. They look around and reminisce — sorting through the porcelain ornaments handed down from the previous generation, reluctant to leave the cabinet filled with memories of their husband or wife. Many know that they can’t handle living alone in a house anymore, but they hold out for as long as they can.
In the ten-year period between 2006 and 2016, the number of highrise apartment units headed by a senior grew by 28 percent. This is significantly more than the general increase in the seniors population, suggesting a shift in housing choices towards vertical living. Within the boundaries of the Toronto Central LHIN, the downtown core of the city, there are now over 200 apartment, condo, and co-op buildings where at least 40 percent of the residents are seniors.
According to the 2016 census, one in four Torontonians over the age of 65 live alone. That number prompted a recent CBC News headline to declare that Toronto is “getting older and more isolated.” But the truth is that the proportion of seniors who live alone has remained unchanged for over fifteen years. It’s hardly a new phenomenon. What’s new is that instead of living alone in their own homes, many aging Torontonians are now living alone alongside other seniors in the city’s growing number of highrise communities.
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