Spreadsheet Color-Coding Categories

Updated: Apr 24

Hello volunteers! Today on the blog, Ellen will be explaining the different types of facilities we write to. Ellen is one of our lovely Volunteer Coordinators, and she took on the tagging of color-coding the spreadsheet. Thank you, Ellen!

Independent Living

Assisted Living

Nursing Home

Memory Care

Senior Center

Meals on Wheels

INDEPENDENT LIVING - individuals live on their own in this type of community, 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.

ASSISTED LIVING - for seniors who can no longer live alone but 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.

NURSING HOME - 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.

MEMORY CARE - 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.

SENIOR CENTER - 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.


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 over 9,000 volunteers!...YOU are making a difference EVERY DAY!

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