Over the next two decades, the number of seniors living in Toronto is set to increase dramatically – from one in seven in 2011 to one in four by 2036.
Although old age is something that awaits anyone lucky enough to live a long life, the actual experience of aging is typified by a sense of loneliness and isolation. This can lead to poor physical and mental health. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that people with adequate social relationships are at a 50% lower risk of death than those with poor or insufficient social relationships. As a risk factor for mortality, social isolation exceeds obesity and physical inactivity.
Oasis is a naturally occurring retirement community that developed organically in an apartment building in Kingston, Ontario. The senior residents themselves developed and now manage all aspects of programming, including community meals, social activities, an onsite personal support worker, and a participatory decision-making model where all seniors have voice.
OpenLab has been working with Oasis since 2015 to study the model, document its progress and practices. This includes a storytelling website about the experiences of people at Oasis to understand the impact of the program at the human level and through them, highlight challenges that might require attention from policymakers and funders as they wrestle with how to keep an aging society healthy.
Currently, we are working to establish Oasis T.O., offering seniors in one Toronto apartment building new ways to age in place and in the process, demonstrate applicability of the model across different communities.
Collaborators: Oasis Senior Supportive Living Inc.
Funder: Toronto Foundation and Margaret and Gordon Fleming Fund