Social Media Benefits the Elderly in Many Ways
10 April 2015
Aged Care Reviews
If you still cringe at the thought of your parents joining Facebook, prepare for the next logical step. A new study has shown that the elderly are increasingly joining social media platforms. The Pew Research Center has released the news that up to 56 percent of people over the age of 65 use Facebook. That equates to be nearly one-third of senior citizens that use Facebook, and the do so for the same reasons as younger people. This should not be surprising, given the way that the Internet has infiltrated so much of modern culture in the past years. The study looks at United States citizens, but the trend seems to be present in other parts of the world, with studies demonstrating the benefits of using social media.
Why are the elderly starting to use Facebook more? The reasons are largely the same for older people, as they are for younger users. It is a great way to keep in-touch with family members, and friends. This could be a highly positive trend, as it has been shown in other studies that people who use the Internet often feel less isolated than their offline peers.
These findings might indicate why many teenagers have decided to move away from using Facebook. While it was once something new and exciting, where young users could escape their parents – those days seem to be in the past. Instagram seems to be the new meeting place for youths, with the Pew Research Center’s “Social Media Update” showing that this service has the lowest amount of older users. Only time will tell whether people over 50 will start to accept the trend of taking “selfies”, and posting them on Instagram.
Facebook is not the only social media service that is attracting elderly citizens. LinkedIn, a site for professional networking, had 30 percent of the studied users aged 50 – 64, and 21 percent over 65. This is to be expected, as many business professionals are middle-aged or older. Twitter is still relatively low in its number of older users, as well.
Should you be concerned if your elderly parent is spending a lot of their free time on Facebook, or other social media sites? Various studies have actually indicated that social media is good for the elderly. There are a number of reasons for these findings. Learning how to use digital devices, like computers and tablets, can increase cognitive abilities. This is great for staving off the effects of age on the mind. It also improves the older people’s sense of competence, because they are not being “left out” of something that so many people take part in. It can generally increase both physical and mental health, according to a study that was undertaken in Italy and the UK. Previously, many people spent their alone time watching television, reading, or performing household tasks and hobbies. These things might have been acceptable for reducing boredom, but seriously lacking in social aspects.
Many people wish that their children and grandchildren would spend more time with them. It has long been a common complaint. The age gap seems to have left many older people in the dark, when it comes to using the Internet. While the rest of the world has moved on, and basically adopted a new way of socializing, the elderly have been missing out. That is why it is good news that they are beginning to embrace new technology.
The elderly do not just stay in contact with their friends and family on Facebook. They make new connections with people who share similar interests. These results should not be too surprises, since human beings are naturally social creatures. Feeling isolated, and being alone for long periods of time, can have drastically bad effects on anyone. Using a computer to reach out and share experiences with people, when someone would have otherwise been all alone, can improve overall quality of life.
Social media should not be considered a replacement for proper care and attention. It is a great way to increase an already active social life. However, most people cannot be totally fulfilled if they primarily interact with people through a computer screen. If you are faced with caring for an elderly family member, you should encourage them to learn how to use social media. Just make sure not to use it as a “babysitter”.
Healthcare professionals are able to provide the proper care that is needed for elderly parents. The burden of finding the right aged care facility for a family member can put a strain on both sons and daughters. It can be difficult to find the best facilities for your mother or father. That is why finding and reading honest reviews is an important part of the process.