The Pope wants you to help elderly people around the world feel more connected during the pandemic.

By Andrea Romano
July 29, 2020
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Checking in on your loved ones during the pandemic is always a nice thing to do, and now the suggestion is coming from the Pope himself.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Pope Francis is now encouraging younger people to find different (read: safe) ways to send hugs to elderly people who may feel isolated due to coronavirus lockdown measures.

The campaign is being launched by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, according to the Catholic News Agency, in response to Pope Francis’ words during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, July 26.

“In the memory of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, I would like to invite young people to make a gesture of tenderness towards the elderly, especially the most lonely ones in homes and residences, those who have not seen their loved ones for many months,” Pope Francis said during the Angelus. “Dear young people, each of these elderly people are your grandparents. Do not leave them alone...They are your roots.”

The campaign has suggested that people use the “inventiveness of love” to find creative ways to send their love and support to elderly loved ones, including video calls, phone calls, cards or mail, or even a socially distanced visits (if it’s allowed).

This can include your parents or grandparents who are stuck in their homes with no relatives to visit, or relatives in nursing homes. You might even want to send a hug to someone you’ve never met. There’s honestly no restrictions on who you send your hug to. A report from ABC News said that the elderly are being particularly affected by the pandemic, and not just in terms of being at high risk of getting the virus. Even those who are staying coronavirus-free while in lockdown are, instead, facing increased feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can exacerbate physical conditions or diseases. And the best way to combat this problem is with a little human connection.

“We have received news of contacts being made via telephone, internet and social networks, and even of serenades to the residents of retirement homes,” it said in a statement from the Vatican Dicastery. “Young people have been doing this to help alleviate the loneliness being felt by many people who are obliged by the pandemic to stay at home or remain confined in residential care facilities.”

There are no restrictions on how you can participate, but the campaign also encourages participants to use the hashtag #sendyourhug. The dicastery’s Twitter account will be promoting the “most significant posts,” according to the Catholic News Agency.