Like many other challenging issues that older adults may face, social isolation is not exclusive to any region or economic situation. It crosses all races and creeds – genders and beliefs – and unfortunately has become more common over time with our global population aging.
Before COVID-19 hit early last year, 1 in 4 older adults were considered socially isolated – contributing to depression and a long list of other serious health-related problems. Not surprisingly, recent research from the has shown us that the issue has likely worsened due to seniors being isolated at home or in a group facility without regular family or friend interaction throughout their week.
How much worse? An AARP survey from late last year found that 3 in 10 women aged 50 and over had gone 1-3 months without interacting with anyone outside of their household or work. And while the COVID-19 vaccination process is now underway in North America, it will be months before many older adults regain the same social interaction they were accustomed to before.
Helping Seniors Through Caring Connections
The good news is that senior isolation is an issue we can help solve right now – and one that every single person can have a hand in. Even during a global pandemic, we can still help those in need by using resources to let them know they are not alone and that they matter.
Last year, Ready to Care® by Home Instead® began its pen pal initiative to make it easier for volunteers to connect with socially isolated and lonely seniors by way of kind and thoughtful letters. Since then, more than 8,500 older adults have had their days brightened – with many of these seniors replying and forging new friendships with their letter sender.
Want to help us make a difference? Here are three ways you can use our pen pal initiative to touch the lives of seniors in your community:
1. Write a letter – visit the pen pal page to draft your own thoughtful note to a stranger in need. Not only will you help curb social isolation, you may end up with a lifelong friend!
2. Recruit other letter writers – Tell your friends, family and co-workers about the pen pal program and ask them to join the Ready to Care movement or download our pen pal toolkit
3. Find seniors who need our help – If you know of a specific senior or seniors who could benefit from receiving a letter, drop us a line at email@example.com.