Writing and Receiving Letters is Good for the Soul, Especially for the Elderly.
Exchanging letters with seniors is particularly important and welcome right now. Older people living alone can experience loneliness and isolation in the best of times, not to mention during a pandemic. Thankfully there has been a strong initiative, often lead by young people (!), to write and send letters to the elderly.
Having a pen pal and writing more can help ease anxiety, loneliness, depression, and also relieve stress and improve physical health! While everyone can benefit from writing and exchanging letters, it is especially rewarding for seniors. Having a penpal helps combat loneliness and depression for the elderly. That’s because the act of sitting down to write a letter creates a mental shift. Just like a gratitude practice forces your brain to scan for the good, knowing that you have a letter to write forces your brain to scan for connections with the outside world.
And when your loved one is feeling down, the letter can be read over again and is sure to bring a smile to their face. This also applies to rereading letters from decades ago. It helps remind them of when they were younger and lets them relive those moments. Rereading letters is also healing because it helps us to feel closer to those who may no longer be with us.
By having penpals, seniors can stay socially connected and look forward to receiving and answering letters from others. Anticipating a letter along with the joy of receiving correspondence may elevate an older adult’s mood.
Boosts physical health – Seniors with arthritis are often advised to engage in mild exercise to alleviate the stiffness in their hands. Handwriting or typing requires fine motor skills and joint movements, which increases dexterity while alleviating arthritis symptoms. Knowing a penpal looks forward to hearing from them may create a sense of importance and make seniors more likely to take care of their health.
Encourages compassion and understanding – Having a penpal of a different age or from a different cultural background provides seniors a wider view of the world. They have the chance to impart compassion to someone who is going through a difficult time. Perhaps the penpal lives a lifestyle less fortunate than the senior, or the senior might have lived through an experience that a penpal is currently having difficulty with. The correspondence may include a way out of the situation or a means of managing an unpleasant circumstance. Older loved ones also gain compassion and comfort from their penpals.
When writing a letter to the elderly, you may not be sure what to write, but all you need to remember is keep it simple, cheerful, and sincere. Your words should be optimistic and uplifting. You may want to include a fond memory you have of yourself and the recipient of the letter. Or, if the letter is for a penpal that you have not met yet, you can write about something pleasant like your garden or a pet. Including a picture is even better! Any memory or life experience that triggers a smile or chuckle is a perfect addition to the letter.
In honor of World Letter Writing Day, Private Home Care invites you to write a letter to a senior through ‘Letters Against Isolation’. It will surely brighten their day, and it will bring you joy as well!