Some North Texas senior living communities are making a public plea for handwritten letters to help lift the spirits of residents who have been quarantined for months because of COVID-19.
“The longer it gets, the harder it gets,” said Amanda Barron, executive director of Buffalo Creek Assisted Living and Memory Care community in Waxahachie.
The virus has separated families from their loved ones since mid-March.
While phone calls and visits through windows are still happening, in-person visits are still not allowed.
“At first it wasn’t as hard as it is now and we’re starting to see the signs of them missing their loved ones,” Barron said. “You don’t realize how much they rely on seeing their kids daily and talking to them until it’s taken away from you and it’s sad. But we have lots of fun here trying to get their minds off of it.”
After a member of the community asked if they could send letters to some residents, Barron decided the facility would start a pen pal program, hoping to ease any emotional toll on their 49 residents.
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“We got three today,” she said holding a stack of letters. “That means so much to residents and the writing part is such a dying way of communication. Our residents know how to write and write beautifully.”
Barron asked that anyone interested in sending a letter to include some personal information like hobbies and family life.
There’s also a pen pal program in Forney.
Residents at the Ridgecrest Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center have even posted pictures on the community’s Facebook page inviting pen pals and detailing their likes on a whiteboard: music, bingo and ice cream.
Letters have started to pour in.
“Their reaction is really kind of surprised and excited and just really sincere appreciation that someone took the time out of their busy schedule to communicate with them,” administrator Tim Peimann said. “If anybody else out there might have the opportunity to send some letters it would be very, very much appreciated.”
Barron said her residents don’t need much. A word of encouragement or a picture drawn by a child would do.
“Just small thoughts of encouragement and, 'We’re thinking of you. We’re here for you.' A card. 'Hope you’re having a great day,'” she said. “Giving them something to look forward to by running to the mailbox and checking to see if they got a letter. I mean, some residents check their mailboxes and never have anything in them.”
Letters can be sent to the following addresses.
Ridgecrest Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
561 East Ridge Crest Road, Forney, Texas 75126
Buffalo Creek Assisted Living and Memory Care
1329 Brown St, Waxahachie, TX 75165
Buffalo Creek said pen pal letters could be mailed to specific residents or they could be sent to the facility, reviewed and delivered to residents’ mailboxes.
Ridgecrest said letters could also be made out to specific residents or sent to the facility for any participating resident to receive.