Grand Pals: Letters to Lessen Depression
Authors: Staci Gardell, Emily Gilmer, Mia Natson, and Emily Page
Faculty Supervisor: Nicole Masano, DNP, RN, CNM, CNE
Community Partners: Sears Coastal and Heritage Christian Academy
We partnered with Sears Coastal and Heritage Christian Academy to implement a pen pal program connecting the senior citizens to a class of fourth graders with the goal of decreasing social isolation and depression by secondary prevention. After moving into a long term care facility many elders suffer from depression from the dramatic change in what was familiar to them and the sudden loss of control over many aspects of their lives. Studies show that having seniors participate in “life review” where they are asked about the best times in their lives and favorite memories has shown to be an effective way to combat depression. Making the connection to another person in the outside world helps alleviate the social isolation piece. In this project we as nurses helped the seniors make that connection to the children as well as aided in cognitive reframing with life review as we read letters to them.