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Social Media’s Surprising Effect on the Elderly

Joke all you want about elderly and social media (technology in general even) but don’t discount the potential benefits online social interaction may hold for aging individuals. In fact, social sites like Facebook and Twitter do have measurable effects on your loved one’s mental and physical health.

Ask anyone who attempted to get their grandparents on Facebook a decade ago how things went and the best response you’ll likely get is a sarcastic eye roll. Back then many elderly individuals didn’t even know how to turn a computer on. But times have changed . . . as has technology. Now elderly individuals can get on social media without a computer via tablets or even smartphones.

And when elderly individuals regularly access social sites, it’s a good thing–healthy even (in spite of the embarrassing childhood photos they post!)

More Tech Savvy than You Think

Think your grandmother is a lovable Luddite? Can’t imagine your grandfather programming a VCR let alone cross-country video chatting? You might be surprised. In fact, there is a significant population within the elderly community who use technology as often as younger adults. That’s according to Assistant Professor William Chopik from Michigan State University.

Chopik, and his team of researchers, created a unique study comparing attitudes toward, habits with, and the effects of technology in a group of elderly subjects 68-years old or older. They found that 95% of these elderly individuals were either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with technology and generally had few issues using it. 72% of the sample group admitted that they were not opposed to learning new things.

Combating Loneliness

Chopik’s study also found that elderly individuals on social media sites or those who engage with others via video conferencing apps (like Facetime or Skype) reported far fewer instances of depression when compared with individuals who still hadn’t made the leap into the Internet age. Researchers theorize that this stems from eradicating (or greatly diminishing) loneliness from an elderly individual’s life.

The Health Benefits

But mental health isn’t the only benefit. Elderly individuals active on social media were less likely to suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure—tremendous news.

In The United States diabetes kills more than 75,000 people every year and is the seventh leading cause of death nationwide. High blood pressure leads to heart disease and stroke—which cause 1-in-3 deaths.

So next time your loved one calls up because they “can’t find the Internet,” just remember that technology may be helping them live happier and healthier lives.

When Social Media Isn’t Enough

Technology can only do so much. There may come a time when your loved one needs a little help to live comfortably and safely in their own homes. When the time comes to find professional at home care in McKinney, Texas, Second Family Home Care can help. We offer non-medical at home care—including dementia care in the greater Dallas, Texas area. Call us at (972) 342-0700 today.

#depression #loneliness #socialmedia #technology

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