Valentine’s Day is a time when we show the ones we love just how much they mean to us. From our partners to our best friends, classmates to coworkers, and family members near and far, this holiday has evolved into a yearly reminder to let the people we love hear it. This year, in addition to showering loved ones with heartfelt notes, sweet treats, and romance, make time to spread that joy beyond your own circle, and join us in sending cards to those who could use an extra smile. We’re talking about elders, a group of well-seasoned, incredible humans who are often forgotten.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation are quite common among elders across the country, especially those living in care facilities, who may be removed from their family and friends. The health risks of prolonged feelings of isolation are said to be equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, affecting mind, body and soul. So, true to the mission of Write_On, we’re spending this month spreading joy, compassion, and human-connection through hand-written correspondence. Want to join us? Read on, then Write_On.
Start your process with a little planning. Who will you write to and how will you get your cards into their hands? Chances are, there’s a nursing home or memory care center closer to home than you think. Give them a call and see if they’re set up to accept cards for residents for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check with them on any special rules (don’t seal envelopes, no glitter, etc.) and the best way to deliver the letters, either via mail or an in-person drop off.
Another option is to send your letters to a third party non-profit like Love for the Elderly, that collects letters year round through their Letters of Love program and sends them to elder care centers around the country. You can learn more about this wonderful organization, which was started by Jacob Cramer at only thirteen years old, here.
If you’d rather get linked up with a specific name of someone to send a letter to directly, visit From the Heart on Facebook to find lists of seniors who have been nominated by their caregivers to receive some extra joy. With their name and mailing address, you can send letters from your mailbox directly to theirs.
Tips & Thought Starters:
Figuring out what to write can feel daunting at first, especially if your recipient is anonymous. Try to keep your letters light in spirit, letting your words trigger smiles. Tell them your favorite love poem, pun, quote, or song. Your favorite story and where you first heard it. Share what’s important to you - your hobbies and passions, but steer clear of hot button topics like politics or religion. If you hit a writer’s block, draw something!
Finally, make sure your cards are legible, but don’t be afraid to decorate, draw and doodle throughout to add some personalization to your notes. Let us know in the comments if you end up taking part in our Valentine’s Day effort to spread the love to elders near and far, and feel free to suggest other resources.