Soul Friends

ElderFriends pair Patricia (Patty) Hanrahan and Caroline Horsford

ElderFriends pair Patricia (Patty) Hanrahan and Caroline Horsford“What seems quite by chance is never by chance.” – Patricia Hanrahan

The smell of freshly baked scones and brewing coffee filled the air as ElderFriends pair Patricia (Patty) Hanrahan and Caroline Horsford sat down to reflect upon their friendship in Patty’s home in West Seattle.  After being matched in March of 2023, the two have formed a remarkedly deep and meaningful relationship that transcends age difference. Patty shared, “That’s what I love about connecting with [volunteer] Caroline.  We just really relate because we have the same value systems, we like the same things, and we want the same things out of life.  For me, age is a state of mind.  When I’m with her, I feel like I’m her age.”

Caroline agreed, stating, “I never make assumptions based on age. What I have felt is a genuine connection of who we are as people.  We have so much to learn from our elders.  We have so much to appreciate from them.   I signed up for the volunteer program, but I feel like Patty has done so much more for me than I have for her.”


Patty relocated from Florida to Seattle to be closer to family, including her grandchildren, during the COVID pandemic.  When her eldest son noticed she hadn’t yet met many friends in her new city, he went online and found Full Life Care and the ElderFriends program.  Patty was initially hesitant to participate, as she is visually and hearing impaired and is inclined to be cautious about strangers visiting her home.  At first, she welcomed phone calls and enjoyed receiving cards from volunteers.

When Patty and Caroline were paired, Caroline felt nervous, as she wasn’t sure how they would be able to communicate.  She needn’t have worried, as when she picked up the phone and placed the call, the pair ended up speaking for half an hour!  Having moved to the United States from South Africa about three years ago, Caroline shared that being an immigrant can be stressful, and that fitting in can be hard, as the U.S. can be very different culturally from her home country.  “Life is very fast paced here.  You’re forced to move very quickly and there’s so much information. When I’m with Patty I’ve learned to accept and allow a lot of things to happen as they are. “


Both women have a deep love of and sense of connectedness through the arts.   Patty sewed home accessories, including drapes, window shades, and pillows.  She taught classes in interior design, and her colorful, eclectic living space reflects her eye for beauty.  She believes in inclusiveness in art selections, stating, “If you take the things you love, they’ll go together – they’ll work.  Rather than having everything match, have everything you love in your space. The energy will be amazing.”

Caroline is open to working with all sorts of art mediums, including painting with oils, creating with watercolor pencils, and sketching with charcoal.  She aspires to become an art therapist, and Patty, who is impassioned about mentoring and empowering young women, plans on introducing Caroline to a contact who is an art therapist to provide a networking opportunity, support, and encouragement.  Caroline stated, “I first started feeling like Patty and I would have a strong connection through our shared love of art and its healing properties. “


Patty and Caroline have enjoyed many fun activities together.  One particularly memorable outing, as recalled by the duo, was attending the Harry Potter score performed by the Seattle Symphony in July of 2023.  The complimentary symphony tickets (made available through ElderFriends’ partnership with Seattle Symphony’s Community Connections program paved the way for Patty’s first attendance at a live theater production in ten years.

The pair have shopped, dined out, gone for walks, and stopped at cafes for coffees and sweet treats; however, their favorite activity, per Caroline, remains their in-depth conversations. “We love to explore concepts, ideas, psychology, and human behavior.”


When asked what her friendship with Caroline means to her, Patty said, “I look at Caroline as a true soul friend. What I’m learning with her is how much we really are connected by life experiences, about things we believe in, things we love and things we don’t.  I see her as someone who brings me so much joy. When Caroline comes in, I know it’s going to be a wonderful day.  We’re going to talk non-stop, about everything, and time is going to fly.  When she leaves, I feel like I’m a better person.  You’re never too old to learn new things.”

Caroline, when describing the impact of her friendship with Patty on her life, shared, “Being with Patty has been an incredible year for my journey of self-discovery.  She is a genuinely compassionate, caring person.  She listens well and has such a golden heart. We share stories and experiences and make connections about the symbolism we see in our lives.”

Caroline continued, “Elder persons have done so much in their lifetimes. Who they are as a person is enough.  They are worthy.  They deserve companionship, love, and friendship as much as anyone else does.  Look at how much Patty has done for me this year just because she is herself.  Let’s recognize the worth of our elders.”

Ready to make a difference in the life of an elder near you in King County? ElderFriends volunteers like Caroline make a commitment of about five hours each month.  Learn more about volunteering and submit an interest form at

Article by Carla Leathers, Full Life Care volunteer writer