How Can Writing Cards or Letters Be Helpful for Seniors at Assisted Living?
April is National Card and Letter Writing Month and for seniors who have chosen assisted living as their premier elder care option, there are numerous benefits to this once common activity. Today, most people send texts or emails rather than writing letters or cards, except for special occasions.
In reality, though, there are numerous benefits that everyone, no matter their age, can gain by participating in this simple activity. For a senior who is living at one of these assisted communities, there may be activities, arts and crafts, creative writing sessions, and other events taking place regularly that will help them not only enjoy each day, but possibly gain other benefits as well.
What could the benefits be for somebody of advancing years who sits down to write letters or cards? Let’s look at a few ideas here.
1. Great mental stimulation.
Although most people today would turn to texting a family member or friend or sending an email rather than sitting down to hand write a letter, there is great value in writing letters and even notes in cards.
For seniors, especially those who may be at risk for developing certain types of dementia, or who are facing memory challenges, it helps to stimulate the brain. The more stimulation the brain gets, the more it can help these individuals, even after they have been diagnosed.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia just yet, there are treatment options available that can help and when they are stimulating the brain, activating those neural connections, there is a chance this can slow down the progression of memory loss in the later stages (Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation).
2. A more personal connection.
When you sit down to hand write a letter to a loved one, you are doing something that requires more effort and thought. Some people might start a letter and crinkle it up, throw away the page, and start over multiple times before they really get to the heart of what they want to say.
Others may ask about grandchildren, great-grandchildren, spouses, or other topics the senior may want to learn more about. They often have done so through writing letters rather than phone calls and certainly emails.
When you sit down and correspond with letters rather than emails or texting, it truly does create a more personal connection, a deeper bond, and that is often missed these days.
3. Receiving letters reminds the senior he/she is still loved.
Not all seniors will have a smartphone or tablet. Even those that do may not use them very often, so receiving a text from their grandchildren or an email from their adult daughter, for example, may not mean the same as a letter.
But receive mail and something special happens. It’s like going away to summer camp as a child for several weeks and hearing that first “mail call” announcement and holding that letter from mom and dad in your hand.
This month, seniors who choose any form of elder care, including assisted living, could benefit by loved ones starting letter writing with them.