Conversations on Aging: Tips to Have This Talk Sooner Than Later

Everyone needs to have these three conversations with their loved ones:

  1. Healthcare decisions
  2. Support Services
  3. Your Finances

Valuable information on these three topics was delivered at a recent presentation hosted by St. Joseph’s Toronto Health Centre Foundation on aging.

The presentation, What Does it Take to Age in Place? was part of a series on Aging with Insight on April 10, 2024 with social workers, Barbara Nicole Ross and Natalie Whitney, as speakers.

Aging in Place

This may mean many different places that include living in your home, retirement homes, senior supported housing, or Toronto community housing.

You should have a conversation about your place preferences with your loved ones. They will know what your wishes are, should you become incapable by accident or illness.

You need to support your decisions by preparing documents like wills and powers of attorney.

In Ontario, there are two types of power of attorney documents (POA) that you can have. One is for property (or finances – you do not need to own real estate to have one).

Otherwise, if you are incapable, the government steps in to manage your finances. Your family may need court orders to appoint them as your guardian. You can avoid these delays and legal expenses with a properly prepared POA that financial institutions will accept.

A second kind of power of attorney is for personal care decisions that include housing, clothing, feeding, and health care, among others. If you do not have a POA for health care, your family can make some but not all decisions.

Your wishes concerning burial and funeral arrangements should also be discussed with loved ones. You may need to make these arrangements personally if you have not already.

The presentation included information under the Health Care Consent Act, 1996. It showed who can consent to treatment if you are incapable to provide consent. This issue is seldom discussed and was valuable information.

This legislation specifies who can make decisions on your behalf if you have been deemed incapable. There is a hierarchy that allows court appointed guardians to make health care decisions for you and if no one is available then the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) is designated to make these decisions for you.

Substitute Decision Makers

Conversations with your loved ones could include alternate substitute decision makers. This person can be more comfortable with providing your wishes if you are unable to communicate or provide instructions.

On the topic of support services presenters identified groups such as government/ministry services, not for profit services and private agencies on a fee-for-service basis that offer assistance.

I learned that the Toronto Grace Health Center Technology offers some free assistance, including tech information about shutting off stoves, lit toilet bowls to prevent bathroom falls and meal trays for walkers to avoid accidents. For some reason, the lit toilet bowls caught my eye.

On financial support, the presenters discussed how other professionals offered services. These range from financial planning, to preparing legal documents such as wills and powers of attorney. There were other benefits and tax credits from the government. Additional information was given about food security, home upkeep, and property tax deferral programs. This was of interest to the note-taking attendees. Different agencies had income qualifications or boundaries based on postal codes for their services.

If you are considering a request to age in place, you should communicate what is important to you regarding your wishes. Be willing to seek and accept help from service providers, community, government or private services as required.


The message I took away was: this is a continuous conversation to have with loved ones and must reflect changing circumstances. It is not a one-and-done conversation.

There will be more Aging with Insight presentations in the Fall of 2024 presented by St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation to harness knowledge for healthy living.

Please visit the St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation here. Contact Janine Kuzma, CFRE, Senior Manager, Legacy Giving, at 416.530.6486 ext. 3851 or at jkuzma @ for more information.

Do you need help with making your powers of attorney or your estate plan? Contact me for a meeting. I look forward to helping you.

Estate law is all I do.

Ed Olkovich