Pen Pals: Lift a Senior’s Spirits With Letters

Person addressing an envelope

Our community is continuing to stay strong these days, and we’re giving each other lots of support. From Music in the Hallways to Virtual Visits, we’re finding ways to stay connected while staying safe during COVID-19. We’ve also been encouraged to read stories of how people around the country are finding creative ways to connect with seniors, including this story about a nursing home activities director who started a pen pal program that’s now has nearly 700 participants!

Letters are a great way to connect with seniors, and we encourage you to write to your family members and friends who are in retirement and nursing homes. Many people have a hard time thinking of what to write, or feel their lives aren’t interesting enough to talk about. Believe us — everyone has a great story to tell. Here are some tips to help get you started:

Introduce yourself. Imagine what you’d say if you were at a party and were meeting someone for the first time. State your name and talk about what you do for a living, and how long you’ve lived in your current town. Describe what you’ve been doing to keep busy during the pandemic, and how it’s affected your life.

Talk about any hobbies your have or sports you like to play.

Make a list of your favorite things, such as food, color, season, person, book, or quotes. Explain why each is your favorite.

Talk about someone who has influenced you in your life and why they were important to you.

Describe some places you’ve traveled, where you enjoy going on vacation, or a place you’d like to visit someday.

Describe your family.

Share memories of when you were a kid. (Or if you are a kid, share your favorite memory of your life so far.)

Remember, you don’t have to get too personal; don’t reveal anything you don’t feel comfortable with. Be authentic, but keep your letter lighthearted.

You don’t have to be the best letter writer in the world — just a short note with some photos or funny stories will do wonders to lift a senior’s spirits!