The Green Line team team spoke with Music Share for Seniors to learn how the charity is using music to help residents at Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home overcome loneliness.

David Burton and Dina Kotsovolos listen to music together in her room.

David Burton (pictured left), a program facilitator at Music Share for Seniors, listens to music with Dina Kotsovolos (pictured right), a resident at Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home.
📸: Aneesa Bhanji/The Green Line

Amanda Seraphina James Rajakumar BW


Indian immigrant with a post-grad in journalism from Centennial College. Now living in Grange Park, meeting new people, and hearing different stories. Has four names, so it’s a pick-your-player situation.

Aneesa Bhanji BW


Currently a journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University who's also studying communication and design. Grew up in Vaughan, now living in downtown Toronto. Always loves a good chai latte.

May 17, 2024

For some seniors in Toronto, feeling lonely is a daily burden.

So, one group in East End-Danforth is putting a stop to this loneliness by pushing play on their favourite tunes. From Main Street’s cozy library to an afternoon at Ted Reeve’s Baseball Park, East End-Danforth might seem like the perfect place to retire— but is it really?

Julian DiCarlantonio-Powell, executive director of Music Share for Seniors, thinks otherwise. He tells The Green Line that neighbourhoods with a lower percentage of seniors often lack the necessary support systems tailored to them.

Bar graph on seniors in Toronto neighbourhoods

Bar graph comparing the size of the senior population in East-End Danforth versus Toronto, according to the City of Toronto’s 2016 Neighbourhood Profile: East End-Danforth.
📸: Paul Zwambag for THE GREEN LINE.

Seniors make up 12 per cent of the population in East End-Danforth, which is 4 per cent lower than the city average.

“In neighbourhoods where you see a lesser number of seniors, I think typically what we're gonna see is that seniors are having a difficulty aging out in those communities,” DiCarlantonio-Powell explains.

“These individuals, I think, are some of the people that face the highest rates of isolation in our communities because there aren't the necessary support systems in place for them to increase their social interaction and engagement on their own.”

Music Share pairs one senior with one volunteer who spends time getting to know them and their musical preferences. Regular conversations help seniors feel more socially connected, while customized playlists reconnect them to their past.

Dina Kotsovolos, a resident at Main Street Terrace Long-term Care Home since 2017, has been using Music Share’s services since September 2023. Kotsovolos loves Tom Jones, whose music she says makes her feel alive.

“Well, before that, I was always in a bad mood, angry — very angry — and sad. But when this fella [David Burton from Music Share for Seniors] came along, we started talking about music…I feel like something is alive with me,” she explains.

Dina Kotsovolos, a resident at Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home, sits on her bed.

Dina Kotsovolos, a resident at Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home, sits on her bed.

By 2031, one in every five Torontonians will be seniors over 65, according to Toronto’s Population Health Profile, which was released in February 2023. DiCarlantonio-Powell says one of the biggest challenges facing an aging population is isolation.

Visual graphic on seniors in Toronto by 2031

Visual graphic on the number of seniors in Toronto by 2031, as per Toronto’s Population Health Profile, 2023.
📸: Paul Zwambag for THE GREEN LINE.

Michelle Pena is working on improving social activities for seniors as recreation manager for Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home. She says loneliness can be worse on seniors because of their existing medical needs.

“Senior isolation can affect the mental health of any individual — actually not just seniors, but if you think about it, it's double for their end because they have chronic illnesses, they have conditions,” Pena explains. “Isolation can really make you depressed, and especially with their lack of physical mobility.”

DiCarlantonio-Powell wants to improve Music Share’s model to support the diverse needs of every senior. Started in 2017, the charity has since helped more than 350 seniors and currently works with 14 healthcare facilities across the Greater Toronto Area.

Residents at Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home play games together in their main room.

Residents at Main Street Terrace Long-Term Care Home play games together in their main room.

“If we can take that person-centred approach and apply it at more of a community building aspect, then there's going to be more systems and more programming and more recreation opportunities for people who are still living at home, and those are the types of things that really keep people healthy into their later life,” DiCarlantonio-Powell says.

“The only way that we can deal with this social isolation epidemic that's going on in the city and in the province right now is really to start just putting people in front of people that are isolated, and giving them something to look forward to and something meaningful to engage in together — because there's no app that's gonna solve this.”

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