North Carolina-based Victorian Senior Care, which manages 14 assisted living facilities, has found a remedy for the loneliness and boredom faced by its residents during the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Its staff has used social media to find pen pals for nursing home residents unable to host visitors.
"It has been mentally straining on them not to see family members and loved ones," Meredith Seals, the chief operating officer of Victorian Senior Care, told CNN on Wednesday. "When you are used to having family there every day and then you can't, it's very lonely for them."
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Photos of senior living community residents from different facilities have been posted online, with each resident holding signs listing their first names and interests--minimal personal information, but enough to spark an old-fashioned snail mail conversation. Potential new friends with similar passions for gambling, baseball or watching Family Feud can skip the small talk and get right to social distancing-friendly bonding.
"They are overcome with joy when they see the mail," Seals said of the pen pal program. "It's good to bring people together as much as we can."
Per CNN, residents have received mail from Germany, New Zealand and countries in Africa.
"We posted a world map in each facility and they are tracking where they are getting letters from," Seals said, adding that residents, like most of us the internet, seem especially fond of photos of peoples' pets.
Check out the Victorian Senior Care Facebook page to find a pen pal. To send theme-based mail (i.e. pets, sports and crafts) to be distributed to appropriate residents, send a package labeled with its theme to:
4270 Heath Dairy Road
Randleman NC 27317