When the first cases of COVID-19 were broadcasted to the public, little did we know how many months we’d be using Zoom to converse with loved ones as an effort to abide by social distancing recommendations, if access to technology was accessible at all. Consequently, many, including those who are high-risk of falling victim to the virus, have become lonely. Leaving multitudes of people desperate and eager to connect with others.
The Elderly and COVID-19
“The risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.” The CDC points out that 8 out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths have been among 65 year-olds and older. As a result, facilities such as senior care homes are taking extreme precautions to protect their residents. Examples being, limiting the interactions with residents amongst each other and completely eliminating visitation from family and non-residential friends.
Studies show that for most elders living in senior care facilities, being aware of their vulnerability has negatively impacted their mental health. This has led to symptoms of neglection and feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. This distress, coupled with many seniors’ cognitive or sensory deficits, has led to residents struggling to cope in their everyday lives.
Understanding the need for connection, the Kindly team has come up with an easy, reliable and – more importantly – safe way to ease the emotional pain and distress of this vulnerable population.
Recognizing the growing need for connection, and reminiscing of a time when writing and receiving letters to our grandparents brought joy, the Kindly team inquired, “why not bring it back”? Words are powerful and letters can invoke and maintain connection, no matter the distance. With this mindset, the Kindly Post initiative was created. Kindly Post enables volunteers around the world to digitally write letters and connect to elders residing in senior care facilities located within the Twin Cities. After the letters are acquired by Kindly, the team prints and delivers them directly to partnered senior homes. Bringing joy and promoting international connection.
How It’s Done
Kindly organizes volunteers through the Kindly app. Potential volunteers must first register for the event and then go through the letter writing briefing. This briefing includes information about the program, letter submission deadlines, as well as a recommended writing process. After this briefing takes place, volunteers receive personal information of a senior they will write to. Information varies from senior to senior, but most include specifics of hobbies and interests. This ensures that volunteers will write personal and engaging letters that appeals to the seniors. By continuously writing letters to these seniors, Kindly is able to ensure connection and promote community that transcends distance.
While battling this pandemic is an ongoing effort, Kindly is continuing plans of action to promote community and safely maintain personal connections.
Are you interested in writing a letter? Download the app here!