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Pen Pals: Assisted Living Members

By Sofia Fortenberry

Many of our emotions are intensifying as the pandemic rages on, but one has especially taken precedence: loneliness. Prevalent in millions of people, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before—it has been almost a year of lockdown—yet for those living in assisted living, socialization was even harder to attain when everyone went into isolation.

Though we are all isolated, the pandemic has looked different for all of us. Some people will have more connections, greater access to technology, or even more knowledge about online communication. Especially for those in assisted living and are at higher risk, loneliness creeps over. Most are not used to texting, calling, or even FaceTime. They are even less likely to have small interactions in daily life.

Yet, pen pal programs all over the world are trying to change this.

Pen pal programs are dedicated to putting smiles on peoples’ faces through letters and packages. A pen pal, by definition, is a person with whom one becomes friendly by exchanging letters, especially someone whom one has never met. Simply writing one letter to a stranger can change their lives and yours. As letter after letter come, both ends of this experience gain a friend. For someone in assisted living, being able to get a letter and form a connection with the outside world, even in quarantine, is something special that is irreplaceable.

Through the form of letters, it gives both you and the person writing back a fun experience filled with both joy and even socialization.

When I wrote my first letter, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even know if I would get a response back. But when I received my first letter, I knew that this was something I would always cherish in my life. I’d made amazing friends that I couldn’t wait to tell more about my life.

Not only do the Pen Pal programs have so many pros, they are also so easy to get started. Finding one website and writing one letter is all it takes to have a friend for life.


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