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December 16, 2019

Winter can be a difficult time for seniors and caregivers who face challenging family dynamics, isolation and loneliness, advise two Family Service Toronto staff members who work with seniors.

“When someone feels lonely, they may have friends and family nearby, but loneliness relates to how they perceive their situation,” according to Counsellor Erin Relyea and community facilitator Maryan Ali.

“Both can have health implications and be as strong a risk factor for dying prematurely as smoking, obesity or lack of physical activity,” they write in a recent caregiver column.

One in five Canadians aged 65 or older have indicated that they often feel lonely. Many seniors are at a higher risk for isolation.

Erin has worked as a social worker and counsellor with FST’s Seniors and Caregivers Support Services team for the last two years.

She is currently the Project Co-ordinator for the Caring for Caregivers project, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to deliver free educational workshops to those who are caring for a senior (55+).

Maryan Ali is the Somali community facilitator for FST’s Caring for Caregivers project and the Seniors Community Connections program.

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