The Internet has provided a wide array of benefits for seniors, and allowing them to keep in touch with loved ones is likely near the top of the list.
Nowadays, there is no shortage of social media outlets available. Where this landscape was once dominated by younger individuals, older Americans are getting on board. As social media can allow a grandmother to see pictures of her grandkids or status updates, such platforms have become more popular among the elderly. Having an Internet connection and Facebook profile are all individuals need to keep up with their family, and seniors are recognizing this importance.
According to a recent study from Pew Research Center, Internet use among seniors rose significantly in 2013. The data showed that more than 50 percent of Americans older than 65 were actively using the Internet last year. That is a considerable jump from the one in every six older Americans that were using the Internet in 2000. What's more is that of all the social media options out there, Facebook saw the largest increase in senior users. The data revealed that 45 percent of seniors had Facebook in 2013, marking a 10 percent increase from 2012.
Internet-use wards off depression
So why are seniors taking to the Internet in higher numbers? It has been shown to help them stay in touch with loved ones and reduce the chances of depression.
According to Michigan State University researchers, between five and 10 million Americans suffer from depression. However, thwarting it could be as simple as using the Internet. The study found that Internet use among the elderly could reduce the chance of depression by 30 percent. This was especially true for seniors who were once living in a large household and now live alone.
"Number of people in the household partially mediates this relationship, with the reduction in depression largest for people living alone," the study said. "This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness. Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation, loneliness, and depression."
The study did note that moderation is still critical. However, seniors likely don't feel as isolated when they are able to connect with loved ones, not to mention fighting off depression could be essential to memory care.
"If you sit in front of a computer all day, ignoring the roles you have in life and the things you need to accomplish as part of your daily life, then it's going to have a negative impact on you," said Sheila Cotten, one of the study's authors. "But if you're using it in moderation and you're doing things that enhance your life, then the impacts are likely to be positive in terms of health and well-being."
Getting signed up
Older individuals might still be hesitant to get a social media account, especially if they haven't used the Internet too much.
However, signing up for one of these outlets is likely easier than they think, and if they have grandchildren, it can be something they do together. These social media outlets will explain how to sign up on their main page, and from there, it's all about using it regularly to get the hang of it.
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