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The Benefits of Letter Writing for You and Your Senior Loved One

June 16, 2020
Categories: Communication | Activities

They say it's a lost art, but it could be making a comeback. Writing letters is not only a way for you and your senior loved one to communicate, but it can provide so much joy from the anticipation of receiving them to the excitement of opening them. Letters are a snapshot in time of our loved one’s personality. We have put together a few insights into what makes handwritten letters so special.

You’ll Bring One Another Joy

Perhaps the most important power of the handwritten letter is simple: It can be a lot of fun to sit down and start writing – and just as much fun awaiting and opening a new letter from a loved one. Since most of us don’t typically receive letters anymore, it can be a welcome surprise, and a warm reminder of simpler times.

You don't have to limit yourself to just the letter itself. Get creative! Include drawings and photographs. If your loved one is able to cook, send recipes you think they might like to try. Add decorative stamps on the paper or envelope, or include a poem or song lyrics that mean something to the two of you. Writing letters creates novel opportunities for you to deepen your relationship.

You’ll See Another Side of Each Other

Something about writing by hand brings out inflections distinctive from other forms of communication. It’s more personal than an email or a text message – you see your loved one’s unique handwriting. Letters also allow you and your loved one to express yourselves more fluidly – there isn’t the immediate back-and-forth conversation of a phone call. You may even feel free to discuss topics in a letter that you wouldn’t otherwise even think to talk about in person. Something about the handwritten word is liberating and encourages you to show different shades of your personality.

Writing Invites Focus & Reflection

On your phone, computer, or tablet, there are so many distractions at hand – literally. It’s easy to lose focus when a notification flashes on your device. When you’re writing a letter, it’s just you, the paper, and your favorite pen. There is also a limited amount of space on the paper, encouraging you to really think about exactly what you want to say to the person who will be reading your letter.

Writing and responding to letters may also help your loved one to better form new memories. According to a 2014 study by researchers at Princeton University and UCLA, there are links between writing by hand and retaining information. If your loved one is in Memory Care, this can be especially appealing.

Your Letters Will Become Little Time Capsules

The paper. The ink. The familiar pen strokes. The physical letter itself becomes a memento – a personal piece of your family’s history. Knowing that the loved one who wrote you this letter once held the same piece of paper you now hold in your hands can be a powerful feeling. They made these impressions on this piece of paper, thinking of you as they mused about what was on their mind at a certain period in time. You can revisit these moments in time, again and again.

Physical Letters Are Timeless

Technology changes. From floppy disks to CDs to flash drives to cloud saves, the way we store digital information is always evolving. Physical media keeps things simple. You just keep your letters in a box or folder, and you’re good to go! Letters are easy to pull out when you want to look at them and to pass them along to the future generations. And if you want, you can always create a digital backup of the documents by scanning or even taking a picture of them. Physical letters offer the best of both worlds.

For more tips on interacting with your senior loved one, visit the Artis Senior Living blog.

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