You might think social media is for young folk but it can be of great benefit to our elderly communities. Research shows that 90% of adults aged 18-30 are most likely to use social media. More interesting and a little surprising is that the amount of over 65’s using social media is now 35% which has tripled since the year 2010 and still growing. This could be attributed to the increase in the number of elderly internet users these days and the courses and help available to them getting them online. The benefits of social networking online is probably the real reason for growth.
So what are the benefits?
Tons to be honest. First most importantly for our elderly, social media helps to keep families closer. A lot of families don’t all live in the same towns or counties so keeping in touch can be difficult. Plus we all work long hours so the best way to find out what our family and friends are doing is by going on facebook. Not hearing from children and grandchildren is one gripe many elderly people have. So seniors are now realising that by going to the places where their families are frequenting such as facebook, makes it easier to keep up with what’s going on in their lives. Mobile phones are more used for social media than for actually phoning people. So joining in with the social media and having conversations across social platforms can be very rewarding for an aging parent.
Digital photographs and video sharing on social media is a great way to capture and treasure memories for ever. Whether it’s capturing a first nativity play or just filming our kids mucking around. By filming home movies we can easily share them with our elderly relatives let them feel a part of what is going on.
Helps fight loneliness
Loneliness and feeling isolated is not good for anyone’s health and there have been studies to prove this. A study in 2012 by the University College of London’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health found that individuals aged 52 years and older who live alone or lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention. But with social media it’s easier to keep in touch and have more of a network around you even if they are a click away.
Feelings of loneliness are connected to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline which are factors which may well be linked to dementia. The University of Arizona ran a study in 2013 which showed that older adults using Facebook are bound to exhibit better cognitive abilities. The people on the study that used Facebook showed enhanced cognitive abilities which meant they have better mood and health. So by being social active online decreases the risk of dementia.
Learn New Skills
Seniors can also use social media to learn about topics which are of interest to them. My elderly mother who lives alone loves to learn new crafts. With YouTube she watches “how to make” type videos and comes up with all sorts of arts and crafts learnt from this platform. She has even made a few pounds by selling the items at local craft shows.
One of the biggest benefits of social media is reconnecting with old friends. As you get older you spend a lot of time thinking about days gone by and old friends and work colleagues. By searching for people on social media you can reconnect. There are many groups formed from old school years to workforce groups. Infact there are groups on every subject so seniors can find and join groups which are of interest to them.
Many elderly folk live alone and suffer with mobility issues so are housebound. Social media means folk can still be a part of what’s going on in the world. There are dozens of forums and communities where like minded people can discuss their ailments and read about ways to cope. Talking about our problems really does half them so by joining health communities and joining in with discussions can help alleviate depression and feeling of isolation.
Peace of Mind
Social media gives seniors and their family a convenient way to check in daily which creates peace of mind on both ends. I myself am happy to know that I can do a video chat with my ageing mum and check in on here daily if need be. As a responsible child I do try to keep in touch with my family but it is a whole lot easier with social media. I also live a few hundred miles away from my home town so seeing my relatives often is not possible. But with facebook and I feel like they are not that far away. If any family member is going through some struggles such as health issues, it’s very easy to create a group and updates can be posted for all family members to read. My uncle recently went through chemotherapy due to cancer and he believes that all the positive encourage and well wishes from the family group we formed really helped him through this time. He is now fully recovered and enjoying a new lease of life. Long may it continue.
Help our elderly
So social media really does have many benefits and these about are just a small few. I am sure there are many more benefits which I haven’t thought about. If you have an elderly relative and they are not using social media, why not suggest they try. iPads are very easy to use and from my experience recommended for the elderly. My mother couldn’t live without her iPad and she has more than had her monies worth. She was reluctant at first due to the cost but it has more than paid for itself.
So if you know an elderly person who isn’t on the internet, why not invite some good karma into your life by helping them get online. Or if you know your elderly parents or grandparents who are already online, why not say hello and send them some photographs or images so they feel part of the family.