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Seniors communicate across U.S. old fashioned way through “Pen Pals” program

Pen Pals at Silverado Escondido last week met their friends in Wisconsin via social media.

Pen Pals at Silverado Escondido last week met their friends in Wisconsin via social media.

Memory care residents in Escondido who had been communicating with pen pals across the country on Wednesday, January 25 met face to face via social technology.

Memory care residents at Silverado Escondido have been writing letters to residents across the country at Silverado Brookfield, Wisconsin for almost a year through Silverado’s “Pen Pals” program. Mostly in their 80s, they remember when writing letters was a main form of communication, a practice that remains familiar in their long-term memories.

Assisted by Silverado staff they moved from old fashioned communication to meeting face to face through modern social technology via Skype. About eight residents at each community have been writing and mailing letters to their pen pals twice a month, sharing stories about loved ones, friends, activities, recipes, passions and plans for the future.

“It was a joyous occasion as residents at each community finally met their Pen Pals,” said Grace Talamante, administrator at Silverado Escondido. The meeting was attended by family members as well.

Pen Pals is part of Silverado’s Nexus program, which is based in scientific research and founded on six pillars of activities designed to help people who are living with early-stage dementia maintain and build cognitive ability. One of those pillars is purposeful social activities, such as communication skills.

“The Pen Pals program promotes connection and engagement for residents and they are very enthusiastic about writing to each other,” said Grace Talamante, administrator at Silverado Escondido. “Writing is helping them develop new and meaningful relationships and creates a sense of purpose, along with being fun.”

Joanna Kendall is a resident at Silverado Escondido who exchanges letters with Silverado Brookfield pen pal Rita Dufek. “I love getting mail from Rita,” said Kendall, 84. “Wisconsin sounds very different from California. It’s interesting to hear from new people and learn about their lives.”

Dufek, 87, said she likes getting to share stories with new-found friends: “I really enjoy writing back and forth with Joanna, especially because it helps me to better express myself and reminisce about life. ” While writing is fun, she thought it was very fun to see her friend “live.”

Before the Skype meeting Talamante commented, “Our pen pals at both communities are very eager about seeing and hearing their new friends. We help connect them the old-fashioned way and soon through modern technology. Everyone is excited.”

Pen Pals is part of Silverado’s Nexus program, which is based in scientific research and founded on six pillars of activities designed to help people who are living with early-stage dementia maintain and build cognitive ability. One of those pillars is purposeful social activities, such as communication skills.

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Silverado Escondido is located at 1500 Borden Road, Escondido. Silverado was founded in 1996 with the goal of enriching lives of those with memory loss by changing how the world cares for people with cognitive decline. Establishing this mindset as the foundation allows Silverado – and its associates – to leave behind previous misconceptions and operate in a way that provides clients, residents and patients with utmost dignity, freedom, respect and quality of life. To learn more about Silverado, visit www.silveradocare.com or call 866- 522-8125.

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