Pen Pal Shopping

greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

I'm pretty much amazed but I have been contacting several retirement homes, nursing homes etc. asking if they as a group home would like a pen pal or if they have any residents who do not get visitors or mail.

I just figured I am from the age where we ALWAYS wrote letters back and forth to our relatives, friends, etc. so I've been reading about some nursing homes are saying the worst part of this Covid crisis has been the lack of visitors or the lack of stimulation the guests are getting because activities have been curtailed.

So I figured I'll write letters and they can read them as a group or I"ll send it to just one or two residents of their (the management's) choice.

Do you believe this but so far I have had three facilities say "No!"

I've asked if there is some reason why and I get all kind of stupid idiotic answers but I mind my manners and try to explain why I wish to do this. I even volunteered to send the letters to their attention and they could read them first.

I'm totally at a loss what the problem is here. Anyone else ever run into this?


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin
    edited September 2020

    This is a very thoughtful idea. I am surprised, yet not, that they won't allow this.

    Could you contact some schools to see if they are willing to put something together and encourage others in their communities to become a part of a larger drive?

    Then I would contact the local news stations about the drive and maybe this would help things get going. As much as media outlets love the sensational, they love the feel good stories too.

    Maybe a media outlet would help initiate it if you explained your idea & the response that you've been getting. They might love to be a part of or help sponsor a community project.

    Could you go through any other organizations too?

    I think they need someone to force their hand.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball What a great idea! It is possible the nursing homes are afraid of Covid contamination on the paper -- I have held off sending birthday cards and such this year because I was afraid family would just toss them anyway through fear.

    The other possibility is that the staff is feeling overworked and doesn't want any other small chores.

    I have been looking into volunteering. The main opportunity here for confined people is for those people in hospice care. I cry very easily and have concerns about how I would deal with dying people, as I am sure a positive visit is the goal. Could I keep from crying until that is what the patient needed? The need is great I'm sure, but I need to think long and hard about that one.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @shllnzl Yes I can relate to the cry very easily comment. I am like a waterworks every day about pretty much everything. Happy, sad, depressed, cute, whatever ...I turn on the tears.

    I've always jokingly said there is one perfect job for everybody in this world and mine is a funeral participant. I can cry and cry buckets at a funeral and I don't even have to know the person. I've been in that position several times in my life and invariably someone always pops up and says "I am so sorry for your loss. Was he/she a good friend or are you a part of the family?"

    You feel like an absolute idiot when they won't let it go and I have to admit I did not even know the deceased. I'm here because ______ (whatever the dumb reason happened to be.)

    So late last year and up until March of this year (when everything shut down because of covid )I was taking care of a gentleman during the days because his wife was a school bus driver. He had to have round-the-clock supervision and she just could not afford to place him in a home anywhere.

    It ended up I was amazed at myself actually. Within a few days it actually did become possible to work with him without the waterworks always turning on because it did become a routine. Sure it was sad and depressing at times, but it also was encouraging because we both became "friends". He could not remember me from Adam (or Jane) or whatever from one minute to the next but he did subconsciously remember he was having "a better time" so it made the days easier and happier for him.

    So yes, I would say if that is your dream, give yourself a chance. You may surprise yourself and find that you can do this.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭


    I live in a rural area so there is no anything around me to contact. The closest town is very small so it is also without amenities. So I have been contacting places which are 10-20 miles from me to see if they would allow me to do this.

    And since they do not know me, well I guess that is the biggest stumbling block.

    Since I do not know anyone in any homes, I don't have any friends with parents in a home etc. I can't get an intro into one of these residences. I was thinking next maybe I could find one of the churches around there and talk to someone there. Maybe they can give me an introduction into one of these places. The church might even have one of their parishioners which would benefit from this.

    I'm not giving up yet on it. I just know I am completely capable of doing this so I can brighten up someone else's day a little.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball You are probably a "sensitive" like me, although I have a pretty good crust for most things. Other members of my family have no crust.

    I recently learned that being sensitive means, at least for me, that I pick up other peoples' emotions and express them. I had never met my father-in-law, but when I went with my mother-in-law and husband to his grave, they made loud swallowing sounds and I cried for them.

    I think churches would be a great way for you to reach out.

    As for myself, I feel badly for those (other) elders trapped in a restricted environment where they don't get many visitors. I will continue to investigate my options for adding some much needed positive karma into today's world.

  • pinksummer12
    pinksummer12 Posts: 19 ✭✭✭

    I think this is such a neat idea! I agree with @LaurieLovesLearning. She offered some good strategies to get their attention and force their hand. It think it is worth pursuing and I hope you do. ~Michele

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,314 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow! I'm shocked they won't let you send letters but not surprised as well. My friend hadn't been able to see her mom for months. She wanted to tell her that her husband (my friend's dad) had passed but they told her they'd bring her mom on the balcony and she could yell it to her. She was so upset about it! She decided not to tell her since her mom has dementia and probably wouldn't remember. After 5 months of not being able to see her mom she finally "moved" her out and home with her family. All of her clothes, furniture, etc.are still there. She's hoping she'll be able to get her mom's belongings soon since people can now visit.

    Maybe it's just me but I don't see why they would be concerned about covid on the letters since you would be sending it to an employee to read not the residents. Also, if we and the employee who would be reading the letter can go to the store and buy things which others have touched and then we touch - it just doesn't make sense to me. I'm sure the residents can use all of the interaction they can get even if they're letters being read to them. I'm sure it's been very hard for them to be isolated from their families for so many months.