Investing in Healthy and Active Aging


Staff Announcements

Following the approval of a growth plan for the Foundation at its meeting on September 19, 2016, the RTO-ERO Foundation is investing in additional resources in order to increase Foundation donations and the ultimate impact on enhancing the lives of seniors.

Jo-Anne Sobie will take on the role of full time Executive Director, effective immediately.

“We are thrilled that Jo-Anne Sobie has agreed to lead the Foundation through its next phase of growth”, said Joanne Murphy, President of the Foundation Board.  “She brings with her a deep understanding of the charitable sector and a passion for raising funds to support research and training in the aging sector.”

As part of the growth plan, Yolanda Bronstein will shift her focus, as part time Director of Granting & Donor Stewardship, to further develop the foundation’s granting portfolio and create stories of impact to share with donors and members.

Deanna Byrtus will continue in her role as Foundation Coordinator.

Foundation Announces $150,000 in New Grants

The Foundation is pleased to announce the funding of its first project addressing the challenges of social isolation in older adults.  

This inaugural grant of $50,000 is awarded to the Hamilton Council on Aging to support the Hamilton Seniors’ Social Isolation Project, a collaboration between seven community organizations. The project aims to measurably reduce the rates of seniors’ social isolation, where risk factors for isolation – such as living alone, disability, poor health, language barriers, poverty, and lack of access to services and supports – are most prevalent. 

Following the rigorous peer review of 20 funding proposals, the Foundation’s Grants Review Committee, made up of experts in the field of aging, recommended that five grants be approved. 

These include: 

  • Ryerson University, AGE and McMaster University to evaluate a standardized, online Dementia Education Program for post-secondary health care students.  The project aims to build students’ capacity to support patients with dementia who display challenging behaviours with non-medical intervention.   
  • The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, University of Guelph, University of Ottawa, and Lakehead Universities to develop a toolkit for healthcare professionals caring for older LGBT adults facing the end of their lives. This novel project incorporates both research and training, and will benefit LGBT seniors across Ontario – in urban, rural and remote communities.
  • Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto to evaluate a Geriatric Education Program for Orthopedic Surgery Residents. This mandatory Orthogeriatrics rotation aims to strengthen geriatric competencies among orthopedic trainees, leading to a new generation of orthopedic surgeons better equipped for the care of our growing older adult population.
  • Baycrest Hospital, the University of Toronto, Meighen Manor, and Rekai Centres at Sherbourne Place and Wellesley Central Place, to investigate the benefits of using cognitive stimulation with elderly long term care residents during friendly visits by volunteers.  The Project aims to show that the use of cognitive stimulation exercises used in conversation with residents will lead to improved behaviours, mood and quality of life. 

Funds will be awarded following Ethics Board Approval from each grantee.

The grant previously announced for the University of Ottawa was to offer interprofessional education to foster a better understanding of the needs of elderly clients with cognitive impairment.  This grant has been withdrawn following consultation with the applicant, due to a lengthy delay in starting the project.

Dr. Rochon, RTO/ERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine, Speaks to Senate

Dr. Rochon spoke about the changing nature of our aging population, particularly those 85 years and older, and those in the oldest age category – our centenarians. 

Here are some of the facts:

  • There are currently more than 750,000 people aged 85 and older in Canada
  • There is limited research data on these older adults
  • 40% of this population take 10 or more drug therapies
  • In the past 15 years, there has been more than a 70% increase in those reaching 100, with 5,825 centenarians currently living in Canada
  • More than 100 centenarians are members of the Retired Teachers of Ontario, 70% of whom are women
  • With less than 100 geriatricians in Ontario, and over 1.8 million seniors over 65, we need to ensure that every clinician caring for older adults is competent in geriatric principles and practices

Dr. Rochon’s research will document changes to the size of the centenarian population over the past 15 years; and will create a profile of centenarians to better understand who they are, and what care they are receiving.

A Special Thank You to Johnson Inc.

In all the excitement about sharing our 2016 grant announcement at Senate, another big announcement was made more quietly.

Following a meeting with the senior team at Johnson Inc. we were thrilled to subsequently learn that they have agreed to shorten the period of their ongoing pledge to the Foundation from 5 to 4 years, resulting in a donation of $75,000 in each of 2017 and 2018.

Donor Bequest to Fund Post-Doctoral Fellow

With much appreciation, we received a bequest from the Estate of Margaret Ethel Emmerson, to contribute to aging research and post-secondary training. 

Margaret dedicated her life to education, first as a student, then as an educator, and ultimately as a benefactor.

Thanks to her generosity, her gift will contribute to the hiring of Lynn Zhu, a post-doctorate fellow, this January.

Lynn will be under the direct supervision of our very own RTO/ERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine, Dr. Paula Rochon.

District 43 Presents to RTO Foundation

Douglas Bolger presents a cheque to Yolanda Bronstein. A Silent Auction at the District 43 Spring Luncheon Meeting generated $1600.00 for the RTO Foundation. The Silent Auction Committee was co-chaired by Joyce Boston and Douglas Bolger.

From left to right:

Joanne Murphy, Foundation President; Valerie Mah, Foundation Past-President; Anne Delaney, District 43, Treasurer; Paul Brazeau, District 43, President; Dr. Paula Rochon, RTO Chair in Geriatric Medicine; Yolanda Bronstein, Foundation Executive; Director; Douglas Bolger, District 43, Past-President & Foundation Contact; Murray Niel, District 43, Travel Chairperson; Diane Niel, District 43, Member; and Student Researchers: Manpreet Lamba, Nishila Mehta and Craig Rodrigues.