As nursing homes and retirement facilities across the world cut off all visitation in an effort to protect their especially vulnerable residents from the novel coronavirus, isolation and loneliness may prove to be a threat in their own right.
Thankfully, a movement is growing aiming at reminding elders that they are loved, appreciated, and not forgotten.
After nursing home directors began pleading with the public, children and their families, many of which are experiencing indefinite school closures, stepped up and began flooding these facilities with cards and letters.
“If your children’s schools are closed and looking for something to keep them busy please consider having them write letters or color pictures and send the to our residents,” reads a Facebook post from St. Anthony’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rock Island, Illinois.
During this time nursing home residents are not able to have any visitors. I ask that any Frankfort students and others who would like to participate, send cards letting them know we are thinking of them. Add to envelope: ATTENTION ACTIVITIES DIRECTOR. Thank you! Please retweet! pic.twitter.com/LQtfWGzFAw
— Chloe Puffinburger (@chloe_puff37) March 17, 2020
— Chadsgrove School (@Chadsgrove) March 17, 2020
My girls are being creative today! They made cards for the nursing home and senior apartments to let the elderly know we are thinking about them. Hope others do the same thing. Just put them in a plastic bag outside the building and they will deliver them for you. pic.twitter.com/FGGQZgicUV
— sarah Halbesma (@Halbese) March 18, 2020
One family in Massachusetts even made national news this week for sending cards to nursing home residents, according to Good Morning America.
“The kids love to do anything arts and crafts and thinking about how stressed everybody is, [we] thought, ‘What can we do to make everybody happy? How can we help?'” said their mom, Vanessa France.
“I explained to them, ‘These people in nursing homes are nervous to get this virus themselves,'” France added. “Being able to draw those pictures and write those letters, it’s the least we can do and it makes us feel good too.”
“Letters from the children will bring them joy and will hopefully comfort them during this difficult time,” Michele Morin of Sterling Village told Good Morning America. “We will also be encouraging our residents to write the children back as an activity.”
For those concerned that this kind gesture toward our elders may do more harm than good, the CDC says that the risk of virus transmission through the mail is minimal because of “poor survivability” on products or packaging with days or weeks spent in transit.
“The paper that recently published, these are under ideal sort of experimental situations,” said Joseph Vinetz, a professor of medicine at Yale University and infectious disease researcher who was not affiliated with the study. “If somebody were to, say, cough … on a box or on a letter, the chances of that remaining viable for the period of time it’s in transit seems extremely unlikely.”
If you would like to join in the fun of spreading joy, hope, and even the Gospel to the elders in your community, it’s as simple as giving a call to your local nursing homes to ask for their address.
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