The limited social interaction as a result of the global pandemic has given our community a deeper understanding of what life is like for older adults who may experience loneliness on a regular basis. And for many seniors, social distancing has amplified the loneliness they already feel.
While continuing to follow precautions is necessary to keep many vulnerable populations safe, the need for connection has never been greater. In fact, almost half of U.S. seniors (49%) feel they have connected less to their loved ones since the start of the pandemic.
“Loneliness is one of the most devastating issues facing our aging population, but it’s also something we’re capable of addressing,” said Shane Thompson, president and co-owner of the Home Instead office serving Savannah and surrounding communities in Georgia and South Carolina. “After a year of isolating at home, we need a little creativity and a lot of intention to ensure regular contact with neighbors and loved ones, even as some social distancing measures are relaxed. A simple act of kindness, such as writing a letter, can really brighten the day of an older adult.”
To help reduce these feelings of loneliness and isolation among older adults, Home Instead serving the Coastal Empire & Low Country set up 100 local seniors with a pen pal on National Pen Pals Day (June 1). The organization is partnering with Hilton Head High School and other area organizations and businesses to distribute notes of encouragement. The initiative is a community event and is made possible by the generous support from local businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers and members of the community.
“These letters may seem like a simple act of kindness, but they really can brighten the day of an older adult,” said Thompson. “Every time I read a letter from a volunteer or see a senior’s face light up when they hear from their pen pal, I’m reminded of the true power of community.”
Becoming a pen pal is simple. Members of the community can submit letters, photos or video messages at readytocare.com/penpals to create a meaningful connection with a senior. They can also nominate a senior to receive a letter—or even request a letter themselves—by contacting email@example.com. Home Instead will handle everything else, from vetting to delivery.
For more information about pen pals or to submit your own letter, visit readytocare.com/penpals or call the local Home Instead office at 912-355-0099. Or, for other creative ideas to connect with seniors in your community, visit readytocare.com.