Seniors fight off depression with Internet use

The Internet is great for finding a good deal on long term care insurance, but fighting off depression?

Between five and 10 million Americas age 50 and up suffer from depression. Any late-in-life remedies to ward it off would be a welcome solution for many, and the Internet might be the answer. 

Researchers at Michigan State University have recently found that Internet use among elderly individuals can reduce the chance of depression by more than 30 percent. Shelia Cotten, a Michigan State University professor of telecommunication, information studies and media, said this survey of thousands of retired Americans for six years is the most comprehensive of its kind. 

So what's the secret to warding off depression? Cotten says it's the ability to keep in touch with friends and family. She said, "it all has to do with older persons being able to communicate, to stay in contact with their social networks, and just not feel lonely."

The study also showed that older people living alone saw the largest impact when it came to Internet use reducing depression.

"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."

Cotten did warn that moderation is always important when it comes to the utilization of technology. 

"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," Cotten said. "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."

Other tips for fighting depression
Seniors looking to keep depression at bay might benefit from Internet use, but there are a variety of ways to stay mentally sound, and most of that are at little to no cost. 

Here's a few more ways to fight depression in the golden years:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Sleeping at least eight hours every night
  • Following a daily routine
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol
  • Not stretching themselves to thin

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