Letters Lift the Spirits of Isolated Seniors

Just as nursing homes were starting to open up, allowing families to visit loved ones using safety measures, new cases of COVID-19 are spiking across America’s southern states following the July 4th holiday weekend.  To protect vulnerable older adults, physical isolation may continue until a vaccine is widely available leaving elderly residents lonely and missing social interaction.  But a little girl in Saskatchewan Canada has found a way to help not only her grandfather who is unable to have visitors but also other seniors in the community who could benefit from her letters and pictures.

According to a recent rdnewsNOW report out of Red Deer, a compassionate 5-year-old girl recently was awarded the Northern Lights Volunteer award for her efforts to reach out to self-isolating seniors and brighten their days.  One of the elderly members of the community group Golden Circle who had no family and because of underlying health conditions was sheltering in place was connected with little Vada because of their shared love of dogs.  

The director of Golden Circle also started including Vada’s drawings and letters in the organization’s weekly newsletter that is distributed to 1,500 seniors in the community.  Many seniors living alone at home or in care facilities continue to struggle with social isolation and depression.  Staying connected through calls, video chats, outdoor masked visits, and with hand-written notes, photos or pictures can help older adults protect their mental health, an important component of overall well-being. 

According to a recent study of loneliness in older adults during the pandemic, social isolation can have significant and long-term negative outcomes for seniors but it is often overlooked by health care professionals. Creative solutions using technology, socially distanced activities, daily phone calls, and letter writing can help seniors cope with depression or anxiety associated with the COVID-19 crisis.

In a fast-paced, digital world, taking the time to share a hand-written note with a loved one is a gift we can all afford to give people struggling with isolation, stress, and worry in these difficult times.  Pick up your pen and paper and reach out to a senior in your life today!