August 03, 2019
From despair to joy: Estelle Young

It began with the death of her son. Then she lost her mother in a car accident and her fiancé died suddenly of a heart attack. The death of her roommate was the breaking point, and Estelle Young ended up at CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. In addition to struggling with depression following the series of tragedies in her life, Estelle couldn’t make rent on her income alone and was scared of becoming homeless. It was at CAMH that her psychiatrist, Samantha, suggested she consider assisted living.

“I was hesitant, but decided to give it a try,” says Estelle, who has a neurological disorder that requires the use of a walker. Soon after, she moved to Shoreham HUB, a community housing building where LOFT provides specialized support services to vulnerable and at-risk seniors with complex challenges, including mental or physical health issues, addictions, behavioural challenges, dementia, absence of family support, social isolation, cultural dislocation and poverty.

When Estelle first arrived at Shoreham, she felt like a fish out of water and turned inward rather than embracing the available supports. She rarely left her apartment and shied from getting to know her new neighbours. Diving deeper into depression, Estelle turned to alcohol and pills, and she eventually overdosed. In the days that followed, LOFT provided high support, with a personal care worker and a specially trained mental health caseworker checking in on her day and night. Thinking back on those days, Estelle calls the duo her “angels of mercy.”

When Estelle broke her ankle in 2016, she was in the hospital, followed by a rehabilitation facility, for over a month. LOFT stepped in, taking care of her cats and helping to make her apartment a place she was proud to come home to.

Today, Estelle is living a life full of joy. She likes to cook and she grocery shops independently. LOFT provides her with help doing the cleaning and laundry—things that are challenging to do with a walker. And, she gives back by regularly visiting patients at the same rehabilitation centre she stayed in when she broke her ankle. Best of all, she’s left behind her reclusive days, and now has a vibrant social life in the community, calling many of her neighbours friends.

“This building has a lot of love,” she explains. “I took a leap of faith, together with Samantha, and landed on solid ground. I can’t thank LOFT enough.”

Crosslinks Senior Housing and Support Services (Shoreham HUB) in partnership with Toronto Community Housing, provides housing and support to seniors who are experiencing mental & physical health challenges, social isolation, who would be homeless otherwise.