Pandemic Pen Pals Spread Joy to Local Seniors

Cary, NC — It wasn’t until this year that I realized National Pen Pal Day even exists. In fact, it’s coming up next week on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, and a local healthcare organization is providing a fun way to get involved.

To help alleviate loneliness among older adults, particularly those who live alone, the Raleigh-based home healthcare provider called Home Instead has started up the “Ready to Care” program. For this, volunteers are encouraged to write a letter and submit a photo or video that will be delivered to 100 area seniors on National Pen Pal Day.

This initiative will be carried out in partnership with The Lodge of Wake Forest and Cary’s Woodland Terrace and Jordan Oaks senior living communities.

All submissions, including scanned handwritten notes, can be submitted at www.readytocare.com/penpals. Writers can request a return letter from the senior if they wish. Children must be 12+ to participate online. However, parents and guardians are encouraged to involve children in the letter-writing experience. Children can create a drawing that could be uploaded along with the parent’s letter.

Here’s a bit more information on the program and the need that exists for this sort of support.

Addressing the Need for Company & Kindness

According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, 14.7 million older adults live alone – often going days or even weeks without any social interaction.

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.

According to research from ValuePenguin, 36% of American seniors 75 and older have reported increased feelings of loneliness amid the pandemic. Studies show isolation can have significant health implications such as higher risks of heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety and even premature death.

“Loneliness is one of the most devastating issues facing our aging population, but it’s also something we’re capable of addressing,” said John Posey, owner of the Raleigh Home Instead office.

“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.”

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.

“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,” said Posey.

Become a Pen Pal or Request a Letter

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 info@readytocare.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 919-676-2273. Or, for other creative ideas to connect with seniors in your community, visit readytocare.com.


Story from staff reports. Photos courtesy of Raleigh Home Instead.

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