Pen Pal ProgramsPen Pal Programs

With today’s fast-paced digital communications, filled with the instant gratification of emails and text messages, it’s easy to forget what an important role letters and physical mail once played in the life of an entire generation. The anticipation, the extra effort of going to the mailbox or post office, the surprise of a handwritten letter arriving, and the excitement of what could be inside, were all a part of life for many seniors.

Even today, when many seniors are computer-savvy, receiving a handwritten letter means so much more, especially as they age and have fewer family members, friends, and loved ones out in the world with which to connect. Knowing this, many senior living facilities are implementing pen pal programs to rekindle the tradition of the handwritten letter, reestablishing connections to the “outside world” for many seniors who miss the joy that comes with a delivered letter.

A common recent trend is pairing up seniors with younger local students to be pen pals. Since many of the children do not have living grandparents, they enjoy learning from the life lessons the seniors can offer. Seniors in turn often experience a new enthusiasm for life through the excitement of a younger person’s perspective, questions, and learning, as well as having something enjoyable to look forward to on a regular basis. In addition, students get to develop their writing skills, while seniors can keep their own communication skills sharp. Many of these programs culminate with a meeting between pen pals at the school or the residence at the end of the school year.

How to Start a Pen Pal Program

Starting up a pen pal program at a senior living community can be as simple as contacting a nearby schoolteacher. Setting up a new program typically involves coordinating volunteers from both sides of the process, both within the community and volunteers from the public. When starting up a pen pal program, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Encourage participants to begin by describing the type of correspondence they’d like to send and receive. A letter of introduction to be given to the new pen pal is also helpful to start the process.
  • Keep participant safety in mind, and consider not including last names in the correspondence. Having a single recipient, like the director of resident activities or the schoolteacher, can help maintain some privacy, even though it is most likely unnecessary.
  • Go over the types of topics that are encouraged and allowed, letting participants know that the letters may be read by others than the recipient (especially correspondence with school-age children). Again, these precautions are typically in place to help parents feel more secure about the program.
  • Make a list of topics to discuss in your letters, including hobbies, interests, family, life experiences, interesting memories. Remember to ask questions in your letters to encourage your pen pal to join in the conversation.

Handwritten letters are a tangible way to share old memories and create new friendships. Just like letters of the past keep people connected through war, across oceans, over years, they can continue to engage multiple generations even in this tech-savvy age.

Megan Hammons lives in the Central Texas countryside just outside of Austin, pursuing her love for copywriting after a career in high-tech marketing. She is part of a large, diverse family and enjoys spending time with the multiple generations living in her community.


  1. Laurie February 29, 2016 Reply

    Hello I’m the activity director in a small facility in Beatrice Nebraska. We have only 17 residents all ladies. I want to get a pen pal program started with a few of the ladies and was needing your help.

    • Christine April 13, 2016 Reply

      Hi Laurie
      Found your post on senior while looking for a reputable site to find a senior pen pal. I’m a young senior, a volunteer in a large well known hospital on Long Island NY, and active in an elder life visitation program. Would not mind being a pen pal to any of your “heartland” ladies but also realize safety and privacy issues involved.

      • Sharon Towle December 4, 2018 Reply

        I’m 68 year old lady looking for snail mail pen pal.
        Sharon Towle

        Thank You and hope to hear from you,
        Sharon Towle

        • holly December 26, 2018 Reply

          Sharon, are you still looking for a pen pals? I have a couple of ladies in Ohio that I could set you up with.

          • Cindy Sweigard August 5, 2019

            Holly I’d love to start up a pen pal exchange with my mother. My sister who was living with her died last October and Mom’s been a bit lonely without her despite our best efforts. Let me know if you’re still looking for pen pals. Thank you!

        • Rose September 2, 2019 Reply

          Hello Sharon,
          I am looking for pen pals for my 86 year old mother who lives in New Jersey. She is interested in writing via snail mail as she does not have a computer.
          If interested you can email me your info to pass on to her. Her name is Rose.


          • Grayson September 10, 2019

            Hello everyone! I am looking to become a penpal via snail mail so if you know anyone i’d be willing to be a penpal!

    • Chelsea July 3, 2016 Reply

      Hello Laurie! I’ve actually been looking for a senior penpal. I don’t know that I could start up a group, but I do have some acquaintances who have penpals already and would probably love to add another.

    • Catherine Quinn October 5, 2016 Reply

      I’m interested in being a pen pal. Email me

    • Kristine March 30, 2018 Reply

      Hello, I actually have family roots from that area of Nebraska. I am 67 years old and follow Nebraska news on line. It would be pleasant hearing from Nebraska residents.

    • Sharon Towle December 4, 2018 Reply

      I’m 68 years old female looking for snail mail pen pals. My husband passed 2003 and my partner passed in 2012. Are you still looking for a snail mail friend to write too:

  2. vivian pyle July 20, 2016 Reply

    I am an 80 year old who still loves to write letters. My list of people I write to has slowly dwindled down to 3. I live in Florida and still active though need for oxygen keeps me homebound. My daughter suggested I find a pen pal. Snail mail or online.

    • Brenda Goelling January 16, 2018 Reply

      We would to become your pen pal through mail. My name is Brenda and i live in Southern, MD. I have 3 girls age 18, 12, 11. Send me an email at We would love to be your friend and communicate with you. Thank you and I hope and look forward to hearing from you.

    • Alison November 9, 2018 Reply

      I am looking for a pen pal.
      I have Lupus and can’t go out much. My son is 29 and lives with me & helps out with everything. I am so blessed to have him. I call him “my Sonshine”.
      But, I need more than just conversations with him & I don’t want to burden/burn him out with repetitive topics. We do discuss daily news topics & how the world
      is changing.
      My mom, who died a few years ago at 93, was a huge letter writer and instilled in me that value. Who doesn’t like mail that isn’t a bill!
      If you’re interested, I’d like to correspond. I’m very lonely.
      I spent years taking care of my mom and now I’m Very limited in what I can do and want to reach out the best I can. I hope this is it!
      ⭐️Thanks for “listening”!⭐️

      • Cindy Sweigard August 5, 2019 Reply

        Ali, would you be willing to pen pal with my mother? She lives in Ellicott City MD and recently lost my youngest sister who had been living with her. She’s moved into an apartment and I know would enjoy receiving mail and writing back.

        • Kendra Fields August 7, 2019 Reply


          I’ve been trying to find a senior pen pal. I’m a 25 year old female based out of North Carolina. I would love to write back and forth with her. Let me know if you think I would be a good fit for your mother.

          • Amy watkins December 5, 2019

            I am looking for penpal (s) for my 85 yr old mom. She is a great & caring person, but unfortuneatly most friends & family that she mailed to have passed. She lives with me but loves to send & receive snail mail.

        • Rose September 6, 2019 Reply

          Hello Cindy,
          I am writing for my 86 year old mother who also is looking for pen pals… she is 86 from Southern New Jersey. She lives alone and loves to write to pen pals but recently has not been able to find anyone to answer. If interested you can email me the info and I can pass it on to my mom.

    • Alison November 9, 2018 Reply

      Hi Vivian,
      I’m 58 & live in Fl., too.
      I lost most of my friends while I was caring for my mom who died in 2014.
      I have Lupus, too, and people seem to disappear when you can’t always be present for them.
      So we’ve both lost friends for different reasons & it hurts!
      I’d love to correspond via computer or “old fashioned” mail.
      Maybe it could help us both feel so not alone.

    • Sharon Towle December 4, 2018 Reply

      Would love to have a snail mail pen pal. I’m 68 and husband passed in 2003 and partner passed in 2012.
      Sharon Towle

  3. Terri Stuart August 26, 2016 Reply


    I was wondering if anyone was still interested in being pen pals? I am an activity coordinator for an assisted living facility and I believe the residents would love this! Please let me know if there is any interest. Thanks!

    • Misty September 2, 2016 Reply

      YES! I have been looking for a pen pal group for a while now. I’ve been trying to help my nephew with his reading and I thought letter writing could help more than studying book every could. I just need to know who and where to send. I think I can even get my niece involved and I would
      love to write some too. Please let me know where to send letters. Thank you!

      • Colline January 3, 2017 Reply

        Hi Misty.
        I’m an activity Director at a SNF in NH. I’m looking for Pen Pals for my crowd. We have about 4 people who would be interested in writing. are you still in search of Pals?

        • Katie Lentz January 4, 2017 Reply

          Hi Misty, my name is Katie, I would love to be pen pals with one of your long term residents!

        • Terri July 3, 2017 Reply


          Are you still looking for pen pals?

    • Robin Banducci January 27, 2017 Reply

      Hello Terri,
      I work at a RCF in Bandon Oregon. The AD and I were discussing February’s calendar wondering about pen pals. Do you still have a group of writers available? You can call me so we can talk about a plan to match them up or email at robin,

      Thanks, Robin Banducci BHC

      • Terri June 20, 2017 Reply


        I apologize that I am just getting back to you. I tried sending you an email but it won’t go through. If you would be willing to, please send me an email at…


    • Channing September 27, 2017 Reply

      Hi I would love to be a pen pal!!

      • debora November 29, 2017 Reply

        Hello my name is martin Debora, I saw your profile at senor pen pal site, will like us to become friends, if you’re interested please reply back for us to know more about each other, we Thanks

        Martin Debora

    • MS Pamela Lightner October 7, 2018 Reply

      I would love to be a pen pal.
      I live in Atlanta Ga.
      I am interested in letter writing.
      Please email me details about getting an address for a senior.
      Tks look forward to hearing from you

    • Jamie October 15, 2019 Reply

      Are you still looking for pen pals ? I know a few at the assisted living facility where I work that would benefit ! Looking forward to hearing from you

  4. Katie Lentz January 4, 2017 Reply

    My name is Katie and I have tons of cards that I have been really wanting to send. A senior pen pal sounds like the perfect correspondent! Please connect me or direct ,e to where I can sign up to be one.

    • pat wright September 15, 2017 Reply

      Could you send one to my Mom?

      She’s 86 with dementia. I visit her twice a week. She wants a caregiver just for the companionship – or a husband.

  5. Graham Head February 22, 2017 Reply

    Hi, I am willing to be a pen pal to a senior. I live in the UK, married with adult children, grandchildren, work as a deputy care manager in a care home for deaf/blind. I like snail mail best. Please feel free to email me for details

  6. Susanna Scott May 4, 2017 Reply

    Looking for a pen pal for my sweet 84 year old mom. Nearly all of her friends and family have passed and she really misses getting and sending letters.

    • Channing September 27, 2017 Reply

      Hi I would love to be a pen pal! I’m a 24 year old lady I lost my grandpa recently and it would be nice to talk to someone!

  7. Terri July 17, 2017 Reply

    Still looking for pen pals for seniors at an assisted living facility. Let me know if anyone is interested!

    • Channing September 27, 2017 Reply

      I am interested in being a pen pal to serval people!!

  8. Mel July 28, 2017 Reply

    Hey, l am a student teacher from Germany and would love to be a pan pal to an old person, whom l could help to feel happy and needed.
    Email would also be perfectly okay

    Best regards

  9. Cathy Johnston September 15, 2017 Reply

    I am a 71 year-old female whose 93-year-old mother passed away in January of this year. My way of dealing with my mother’s death is to not think about it. I would like to correspond with someone who can listen to my feelings and I can listen to theirs.

    Sometimes you just need to speak with another female to understand what they are going through. I thought this would be a good way for me to express my feelings and hopefully be able to bond with another female.

    • Melody October 24, 2017 Reply

      Hi Cathy,
      I lost my mom February 21, 2014. The death of my mom was and still is hard to deal with. I am 62 years old and up until my moms death, she depended on me for almost everything. My grandmother, my mom’s mother once said that I was the parent and she was the child. Four months before her death, I was injured at work and had to have surgery and go to rehab. Because she wouldn’t ask my sister to help out during this time it angered me. I was so tired of my mom letting my sister off the hook. I began to speak rudely to my mom, hoping she would see the stress I was under. I tried to call her around 11 am of February 21 and couldn’t reach her. According to the paramedics she had passed away 2-3 hours earlier. I regret acting the way I had acted and I didn’t get to tell her I was sorry. I know God has forgiven me, but forgiving myself has been a problem. If you want to talk with me, you can email me at Melody

    • Jean Rhoden March 8, 2019 Reply

      Cathy, it is now 2019 . Are you still looking for a pen pal ? I live in South Carolina, am a young 80 . I teach piano and am an interim choir director. I took care of my mom in her later years until she was 99 .
      Drop me an email if you are still interested in a pen pal.

      Have a great weekend !!!


  10. Nick Budler October 5, 2017 Reply

    Hi Terri,

    Would be happy to snail mail with a senior citizen. I am a 21 year-old living in Indiana. Willing to write to anyone who could use a pen pal to chat with, especially one who has stories to tell!


  11. Sandra Forte November 21, 2017 Reply

    I am interested in starting a pen pal program here in California area. I’m a widow, single parent, and working mom. I would love to start up a pen pal connection with other seniors.

    contact me at:


  12. Justin December 19, 2017 Reply

    Hello Everyone,
    I’m Justin 85yrs and would love to have a pen-pal someone i can talk to from time to time.loneliness is taking the better part of me now since i lost my wife and life don’t seem to make much sense anymore.sometimes i get thoughts of taking my own life just to end it all but something tells me to hold on and keep going.
    please anyone with a good heart write to m i would glad to get any responds.i could really use a friend.

    • Dianne H. White July 3, 2018 Reply

      Hi, I love to be your Pen Pal.

  13. bulgari bague imitation January 13, 2018 Reply

    Thanks, Javelin! We’ve adjusted the closed captioning on both videos, so hopefully you will have a better experience viewing them! Thanks for watching!

  14. Gina October 30, 2018 Reply

    I would love to be a pen pal with a few people . Writing letters is a wonderful way to keep positive as we age. 60-69 is the lonliest age yet.
    How can you not put your email on here to meet people I want to get a real letter so how do I do this. I live in midwest WI.

  15. Matilda namurwa January 8, 2019 Reply

    Hi I would like to get a penpal. Age doesn’t matter

  16. Ray thomas September 4, 2019 Reply

    Hi want to email you.76’year old mail.

  17. Judi Sim October 26, 2019 Reply

    Hi Vivian!
    I’m about to turn 80, live in Victoria B.C. CANADA, enjoy writing, painting, still pretty mobile, swim 3 times a week, but as it seems to be part of life’s journey, have lost a lot of dear friends, and spend a fair amount of time in ‘solitary play’. I particularly like email as a form of communication, so if you are interested in a distant pen-pal, let me know. My background is nursing and social work, mainly with youth. I worked in Baltimore and San Francisco and really enjoyed the gregarious nature of Americans.

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