Senior Support
The Best Way to Start a Pen Pal Program for Your Local Nursing Home

Studies show that advancing age is often accompanied by the loss of a social support system due to the death of a spouse or sibling, retirement, or new living circumstances. Because of this and other health issues from illnesses and medications used to treat them, late-life depression is more common than you might think, affecting approximately 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. Give InKind support pages can be used to help people in many different situations or phases of life, including Senior Support, whether for a single person or an entire senior care facility. If you’re looking for ways to organize support for the latter, consider using Give InKind to set up a pen pal program for your local nursing home.

Checking In with Each Other Matters

Alison Gould, a clinical social worker with expertise in caring for those 65+, reminds us that elderly citizens, in general, have tremendous regard and affection for children. Gould remembers walking her daughter in a stroller near an assisted living facility a decade ago as a new mom. The overwhelmingly positive and happy response to her presence there from the residents actually led Gould to create an intergenerational program at local schools. Gould says that after every program, the teachers report how the students were enriched, and the senior volunteers insist that they derived more benefit. 

Intergenerational pen pals offer people of all ages and their esteemed elders an important chance to communicate with and learn from one another. Consider whether there is a local program that could be launched through a youth group, a school classroom, a Facebook Group, or other community group for people of all ages to participate. 

Getting Started with Your Give InKind Page

Contact your local Senior Care Facility to see if they would like to participate. Gather the names of their residents and a short bio with coinciding photos for each of them. Now it’s time to get started on your Give InKind page (see a sample Give InKind Senior Care Pen Pal Support Page here).

Introduce Your Senior Participants

We recommend using the Updates section to host bios for each of the senior participants. Include their name, a photo, and a short description of who they are and what they like so that supporters can browse and get to know them. This also is a great conversation starter for people who are sending a letter for the first time.

Create a Pen Pal Schedule

Because you can add as many items on the Care Calendar as you need, create monthly calendar events for each senior participant. Do you want them to receive a letter once a week, once or twice a month? Add as many as you’d like. This also helps show who still needs letters sent to them.

Getting Other Stuff in the Mail is Fun Too

The Give InKind Wishlist is another opportunity for others to meaningfully support residents of the senior facility. You can list the items that individual senior participants need/want in their bio and then add it to the Wishlist. 

Browse Give InKind’s curated list for suggested items that could be helpful. When you see an item that could be helpful, use the “+" icon to add to your Wishlist. You may also add an existing Amazon Wishlist to your Give InKind page.

Fundraising for the Facility

If the Senior Care facility has fundraising needs, simply enable the fundraising button on your Give InKind page and connect your PayPal and/or GoFundMe account.

Kindness Matters

The connection between an older and aging generation is a lovely thing and one that can be supported in simple yet meaningful acts. So, yes, postcards, the picking up of a pen, the thrill of a letter in a mailbox, is still relevant. We may just discover we’re not entirely different after all and find that any type of support is a gift, both to the giver and to the receiver.

Create your Give InKind Senior Support Page here.

To help support your efforts, Give InKind will mail you free postcards for you and your pen pal to get started (and #SaveThePostOffice). Interested? Fill out our form for free postcards here and see our guide below.

If you have any further questions, visit Give InKind’s Help Center or view our helpful articles about Senior Support.


Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.

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