IN 2007, as part of her work at the Council on Aging in Kingston, Ont., Christine McMillan interviewed seniors in the city about their most pressing needs. A couple of years into that project, McMillan, who was 79 years old at the time, connected with people living in Bowling Green 2, an unassuming grey mid-rise across the street from the Kingston Centre mall. Bowling Green 2 isn’t a bad place to grow old: its apartments are affordable and within walking distance of grocery stores, pharmacies and banks.
Despite those conveniences, however, the 12 residents McMillan spoke to confirmed an unaddressed problem she’d already identified among this demographic: crushing loneliness. Most of them were widows and described sitting in their apartments all day, watching TV and napping—and subsisting on tea, toast, and cereal because they lacked the motivation to cook a proper meal for themselves. They dreaded having to go into long-term care but couldn’t afford to move to a retirement home.
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