Updated: Jul 24
Hello volunteers! Today on the blog, we are sharing a refreshed list of what each of the categories mean on the sign-up portal. Please join me in giving us a special thanks to Volunteer Coordinator Ellen for all her help in carefully wording these descriptions!
Click through the list to see a description of the category, what kinds of seniors reside in each category, and what kinds of letters and cards are most appropriate to send to each category.
Here, individuals live on their own with no medical care or nursing support. There is access to common areas, community outings, exercise classes, and sometimes a pool, tennis courts, or a golf course. Also referred to as an active adult community, senior apartments or a retirement/55+ community. If you enjoy writing longer letters with lots of detail, these will be your most appreciative recipients.
In this type of community, seniors can no longer live alone but they may require limited nursing care and assistance with basic self-care activities such as bathing and dressing. Meals are prepared and served in a communal dining room and laundry services are provided, as is administration of medication. Facilities offer many group recreational activities as well as community trips. Also referred to as custodial care, residents at this type of facility will likely appreciate longer letters which mention events happening in the outside world as well as information about seasonal/holiday happenings.
Also called long-term care facilities, seniors in this setting have physical or cognitive impairments which necessitate intensive hands-on care, round-the-clock monitoring and meals provided in a group setting. All facilities have on sight activities programs and some may schedule small, simple trips into the community. Letters sent to individuals at this type of facility should optimally be written in larger than normal print and details should be specific and easy to comprehend. Drawings by children are especially appreciated at this type of facility.
This type of facility is for individuals with cognitive impairments significant enough to necessitate 24-hour care and increased safety measures such as locked doors and security cameras. If you choose to write to these seniors, use a bright colorful card and keep your thoughts and ideas simple and concrete. Interesting, eye-catching pictures will often mean more than lots of complicated writing. Again, this would be a good place to send children’s drawings.
These are community-based and the most affected by restrictions due to the pandemic. Also known as community centers, seniors attend independently and partake in a variety of classes focusing on physical activity and crafts. Many facilities also serve meals and provide referrals to community-based services as needed. As with Independent Living facilities, your correspondence can be longer and more detailed.
Meals on Wheels
These are community-based programs which rely on volunteers to deliver thousands of meals to homebound seniors around the country. As important as a nutritious meal is the appearance of a friendly face; this may be the recipient’s only social interaction for the day. These are perhaps some of the most isolated seniors we serve who will appreciate news of the outside world (and writing in a large font is an added bonus!) As with Independent Living facilities and Senior Centers, your correspondence can be longer and more detailed.
Seniors in hospice are receiving end of life care. Let’s brighten their days with positive quotes, friendly thoughts, respectful kind wishes and perhaps a simple joke. PLEASE do not discuss health or religion in your mail. This is the perfect chance to include some artwork, colorful stickers, or even just use colorful pens and paper.
LAI takes special requests for seniors who are aged 90+ and we ask our volunteers to send cards to mark the occasion. The request is for the number of cards which corresponds to the number of the birthday - so if someone is turning 95 we request 95 cards. Each volunteer is limited to sending one card per birthday recipient so the senior receives a wide variety of cards/styles/good wishes. If you'd like to participate, you are welcome to send any form of birthday wishes, a favorite birthday quote or a birthday joke to help make the celebrant's day special.
Are you wondering how to access these categories on the portal? Click through this slideshow for step by step instructions!
Click the “Search Facilities” tab which the navigation bar at the top of the screen.
Click “More Filters: which is located in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Check the “Category” box in the drop down menu.
Click the “-Select-” button that appears under “Category”
Click the facility type you want to filter by.
Press ”Apply” in the black box in the bottom right corner of the screen.
If you ever are wondering what the categories mean again in the future, you can easily get back to this blogpost! Just click the blue text that describes the category type in any of the facility cards, and it will redirect you here!
Please understand that some facilities offer a continuum of care and we've done our best assigning each to a category. Since group activities, community outings and communal meals have been significantly curtailed during the pandemic, our letters are vital in keeping these seniors engaged.
THANK YOU to each and every one of our volunteers!...YOU are making a difference EVERY DAY!