Can Social Media Improve Mental Health in Seniors? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on March 25, 2015

Can Social Media Improve Mental Health in Seniors?

About half of seniors in the U.S. don’t use the Internet or social media.

Only about half of seniors in the U.S.
use the Internet or social media.

Social media is generally considered an activity or outlet for young people; however, the fastest growing demographic in social media use is people who are 74 and older. In fact, nearly 50 percent of seniors in the U.S. regularly use the Internet and are active on social media sites.

Of course, that statistic means that about half of seniors in the U.S. don’t use the Internet or social media. But, a new study is reporting that maybe they should.

The study found that training older people to use social media may improve their cognitive capacity, increase their sense of self-competence, strengthen their sense of personal identity and help them engage in more social activity. All of this together can lead to overall better mental health and well being.

As humans, we’re social beings – this means that when we’re able to connect with others, our cognitive and physical health benefits. This remains the same regardless of age.

People who are socially isolated or are feeling lonely are more vulnerable to disease and decline. Unfortunately, these feelings of isolation and loneliness are common for seniors.

Older adults tend to be more susceptible to isolation for a number of reasons. When they retire from work, they may lose connections with colleagues. Some older adults no longer drive, so if public transportation isn’t available, they can’t get out as often. And, death is a natural part of life, but that also means that as adults get older, they lose some of their friends and relatives.

By getting online and involved in social media platforms, seniors may be able to better keep in touch with their children, grandchildren and other relatives. This includes engaging in conversations online as well as keeping in touch through photo and video sharing.

Being active on social media not only enables and enhances social connections for seniors; it also provides them with regular positive interactions with friends and family. All of this adds up to improved health and a potentially reduced risk of dementia.

If you’re an older adult interested in engaging in social media, ask a family member to help you set up accounts and teach you how to use them. This will set you on your way to being better connected to loved ones and will give you more face time with the relative who is teaching you.

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