Alzheimer’s Care Encourages Seniors to Write Letters to Their Loves Ones

Alzheimer’s Care Encourages Seniors to Write Letters to Their Loves Ones

 March 7, 2024

A woman is writing in her notebook

Alice was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It didn’t come as a complete surprise, but it was still difficult to handle, that diagnosis. Her grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, too, so there was some precedents in her family. When the symptoms started showing up at 71, she was nervous. By the time she was diagnosed two years later, she had resigned herself to the fact that the memory challenges were probably directly associated with Alzheimer’s.

At the time, she was also fairly resigned to giving up. Giving up on life, at least the one she knew. She didn’t think there was anything that could make a difference in how life progressed for her from there on out.

She and her adult children understood that the average life expectancy for somebody with Alzheimer’s is between eight and 10 years (Alzheimer’s Association). What was she going to do in those next 8 to 10 years? More specifically, how many “good” years did she have left before the memory loss became so significant she struggled just to keep track of the people closest to her?

What she didn’t anticipate on was an Alzheimer’s care aide coming in and talking to her. She was helping her and encouraging her to write letters, among other things. “Who am I going to write letters to?” Alice asked.

“Family and friends,” the Alzheimer’s care aide replied. “People you haven’t seen in a long time. People you see every day. It doesn’t matter. It’s the process that makes a difference.”

Alice was skeptical at first, but she also missed that dying art of writing letters. She used to write letters all the time when she was younger. When her children were growing up and even when her late husband was off on business trips. Cell phones, emails and instant messaging changed all that. But eventually Alice discovered the benefits that writing letters can still offer somebody of her age and in her situation.

Feeling More Connected

Too often in our modern age, the distance can grow. Even among family and friends who live in the same town. People get so busy that they forget the slow down and stop every once in a while just to smell the proverbial roses.

In this case, they forget to stay connected. Sure, adult children or grandchildren can tell Alice all about their day, what’s going on with loved ones, and so forth. But if it’s on paper, if they write back, she can cherish to those letters and pull them out and any time and read them again and again.

Encourages Activity

People who are inactive are inviting the regression of memory more quickly. However, some studies show that mental stimulation can help slow down the progression of memory loss among those with Alzheimer’s (Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation).

By sitting down and writing letters, Alice was exercising her brain, walking down memory lane, and helping to stimulate those neural connections before it was too late.

Boosts Mental Stimulation

As mentioned, mental stimulation can be crucial for somebody with Alzheimer’s. Many of us have heard for years that mental activity can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But once a person is diagnosed, there is no cure, so what would be the point?

Engaging in mental activities can have some profound impact on memory retention and slowing down the progression of the disease, at least for a while.

Uplifting Spirits

For somebody like Alice, most of her family and friends didn’t write back. But the ones who did helped her to feel more connected. It can truly alter the course of somebody’s week when they receive a letter from a loved one. Especially when it feels as though nothing is going right.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Alzheimer’s Care in Fox Chapel, PA, please contact the caring staff at In-Home Quality Care today. Serving the Greater Pittsburgh Area since 1990! Call 412-421-5202