An Update on the Elderly Married Couple Featured in Our April Issue

And how to cheer up other couples like them.


elderly married couple

Here’s an update on the elderly married couple featured in our latest issue. Photograph courtesy Bernie Rice

Since we released our April issue with a cover story on marriage, a few of our readers have written in to check in on the older couple we featured. They’re wondering how the two are faring now, given the particularly isolating — and dangerous — COVID-19 pandemic. The couple, Bernard (Bernie) and Norma Rice (95 and 94 years old, respectively; married for 72 years), are living separately in an assisted living facility. Bernie is in independent living and Norma is in memory care. (Full disclosure: the author is their granddaughter). We reached out to Bernie to see how they’re doing now:

“Tomorrow will be two weeks since I last saw her. Security is very tight here now — no outside visitors and they’ve secured Norma’s building and my building, so I can’t go visit her. But the woman in charge of the whole campus has visited her a few times and explained why I couldn’t see her, why we couldn’t be together, and she seemed to understand. I’ve called three or four times and spoken to the nurses in her section and they say she’s been doing okay. I’m afraid that if I call her it would get her upset. I worry about her all the time. But I’m hanging in there!”

Readers have also asked about sending Bernie a note to help him feel less lonely during this time, as he expressed loneliness when sharing his story in our April issue. If you’d like to do so — or if you’re inspired to send a card, letter, or drawing to other residents of the facility who might be feeling isolated during this time — you can send to the address below, where it will safely be delivered to residents. (According to a statement posted on the United States Postal Service website, “… the CDC, the World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.” Still, many facilities have systems in place to “quarantine” and disinfect mail to ensure safety.)

Attn: Bernie Rice (and/or) Front Desk
Attleboro Village
290 East Winchester Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047

In addition to my grandparents, many members of our older community may be feeling particularly isolated during this time. If you’d like to reach out, here are some other local assisted living/nursing home facilities in our area that are accepting mail (like drawings, letters, pictures, etc.) or virtual notes.

Wesley Enhanced Living

Send positive notes, drawings or messages to [email protected]. “This email account is being monitored and the content will be shared and accessible to all six of our WEL communities across Pennsylvania. Our staff is sharing this positivity with the residents via technology, through posting online and on community message boards,” Colleen Scott, Wesley’s public relations coordinator, said in an email.

While they’d prefer virtual notes, Wesley is currently accepting mail, too. Send to the attention of “Project Feel WEL,” and “we will spread the love to residents in all levels of care who are sacrificing social interactions to remain safe and healthy.” As for safety concerns: “We have a system in place whereby any #ProjectFeelWEL mail items received will be placed in their own ‘quarantine’ for a period of time prior to being distributed to residents.”

Project Feel WEL Mailing Addresses
Attn: Project Feel WEL
Wesley Enhanced Living Burholme
7040 Oxford Avenue
, Philadelphia, PA 19111

Attn: Project Feel WEL
Wesley Enhanced Living Doylestown
200 Veterans Lane
, Doylestown, PA 18901

Attn: Project Feel WEL
Wesley Enhanced Living Main Line
100 Halcyon Drive,
 Media, PA 19063

Attn: Project Feel WEL
Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack Park
8401 Roosevelt Boulevard, 
Philadelphia, PA 19152

Attn: Project Feel WEL
Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley
6300 Greene Street, 
Philadelphia, PA, 19144

Attn: Project Feel WEL
Wesley Enhanced Living Upper Moreland
2815 Byberry Road
, Hatboro, PA 19040

Juniper Communities

In lieu of physical mailings, the staff of Juniper Communities, which has locations in Bensalem and Chestnut Hill, asks that you send virtual messages (like videos of kids singing, reading or saying hi, or to email a picture of your note or drawing). Post messages to Juniper’s Facebook page or send to [email protected]. They’re also providing residents with access to iPads and laptops for FaceTime and Skype sessions.