So, 2020…what a year. There are a SLEW of issues that we as editors could write about each week – we are not low on catastrophic topic options that’s for sure. A pandemic, a complete political mess (no matter your side), wildfires, hurricanes, economic challenges galore, mental health issues rising to record highs… I mean truly, if this were a movie I’d say “Oh Sure! What a ridiculous premise. EVERYTHING can not possibly go wrong at once. Just silliness.” But here we are.
A couple of weeks ago I was mulling over all of these lovely issues in my head. The one issue that I couldn’t seem to shake was something not on my list above – it was the issue of loneliness for the elderly in our community. It just hit me hard that day that so many elderly, in nursing homes, assisted care facilities or even with in-home care – they are dealing with such severe loneliness through all of this. So many elderly are not able to have any visitors, not even family. And in those rare cases that they can have a visitor, it’s for 10 minutes outside a window. It’s just incredibly sad. So I thought about what I could possibly do, virtually, to help in some small way – and it hit me… Pen Pals! At least I could maybe connect with even just one individual and help that person feel just a little less lonely during these crazy times. After doing some research and gathering all the info I could find, I was going to share it with all of you. Then maybe, together, we could make a real difference for some of our local seniors.
Unfortunately, the programs that I found were not exactly what I was looking for. I was hoping to find an organization that matched individuals, on a local level, so that maybe once the world had come out of this mess, the pen pals might even be able to turn into in-person visitors one day. Most of the organizations that I found were much more general – either they were not local, or they were set up to send a “basic hello” letter to the nursing home/elder care and then they would give it to one of the residents. It was a very nice service, just not what I had in mind.
What I would love to see is an organization that matched Pen Pals based on interests. Is the senior interested in cooking/foodie, knitting, crafts, movies, history, books etc.? Then those seniors would be matched with a community member interested in similar things and the Pen Pal’ing would begin! I realize that not all seniors in nursing facilities or assisted care facilities have the ability to write letters themselves – but I do believe some are – and for those who are not, maybe someone at the facility could assist? I am out of my wheelhouse on all of this. I have been very lucky and do not have any personal experience with eldercare, so that’s why I’m reaching out to all of you wonderful MainLine Neighbors members.
If anyone knows of a Pen Pal organization, or maybe you work for an assisted care facility, or even an in-home care organization, and can share your thoughts on how to go about starting a small group – that would be wonderful! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any information. Or if YOU would like to join me and become a Pen Pal, please let me know that as well!
Let’s Spread Some Love in 2020!