Studies show that loneliness has serious health risks for aging adults. Scientists from the University of Chicago revealed that feelings of isolation and extreme loneliness are deadly than being overweight for older people. Isolation harms both physical and mental health, especially during retirement. As people age, researchers found a difference in the declining rate of seniors’ physical and mental health, and these differences have links to the remaining number of their satisfying relationships. This is why many seniors remain in home care to be with their loved ones instead of living in healthcare facilities or nursing homes.
Because of the crippling impact of loneliness in the aging population, seniors turn to social media to beat the boredom and sadness. Psychology experts from the University of Arizona found that social networking isn’t just for killing time and uploading photos. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, help enhance seniors’ cognitive abilities and maintain their connection to their families. Instead of being a couch potato on retirement, social media allows you to become cognitively engaged.
Despite the misconception that older adults are incapable of technology because of their cognitive deficits, this reality shouldn’t hinder adults from embracing social media. This article will talk about why family members should support their aging loved ones to use social media and how it will benefit them physically, mentally, and socially.
Maintain family connections
The COVID-19 pandemic has further widened the geographic distance between families, but the impact is far worse when it comes to seniors. According to a Global Health Research and Policy, the pandemic has increased the number of older adults who remain socially isolated. Seniors, especially those living in assisted living facilities, are prone to extreme loneliness if they live away from their families.
Health conditions and mobility issues hinder seniors from seeing their family members. Some nursing homes even restricted visitations to protect their senior residents from the spread of the virus. For this reason, they need another avenue to reach out to their friends and family members.
Social media helps seniors stay connected with their loved ones, whether locally or abroad. Facebook and Instagram have video chat features for face-to-face interactions. This allows both parties to see each other’s faces and keep the conversation more intimate.
Seniors can also stay updated with their family and friends through photo uploads. Social media allows users to share photos of their daily life, events, vacation, and other special occasions. In turn, seniors can browse their feed or visit a family member’s profile to know what they are up to.
Join online communities
Participating in events or public gatherings keeps seniors entertained while building more connections. But sometimes, certain limitations (e.g., health or lack of transportation) prevent seniors from mingling or going out.
Social media communities, such as Facebook groups, make an excellent outlet for older adults. They can meet like-minded friends based on similar interests, hobbies, and ideas with no hassle. This provides seniors a sense of community involvement and belonging even if they can’t meet these people in person.
Social media also help seniors find book recommendations, new hobbies, and TV shows, which will keep them entertained and busy while at home.
When encouraging a senior to join an online community, make sure to remind them when talking to strangers online. Inform them to secure their personal details, such as the address, contact info, bank accounts, and passwords.
Provides endless entertainment
Social media networks offer a great number of entertainment choices at everyone’s disposal. In YouTube, seniors can look for interesting topics and find thousands of videos related to them. They can also listen and watch their favorite singers and relive the songs of the past.
YouTube has several video categories which can keep seniors entertained for hours on end. If your senior loved one is a little tech-savvy, you can encourage them to upload videos on YouTube for fun.
The same goes for TikTok, a viral video-sharing application that allows users to share and create short videos about any topic. Besides Gen Zs and millennials, you can now find older adults joining the TikTok bandwagon. You’ll find seniors sharing videos of their favorite hobbies and taking part in fun pranks.
Loneliness can take a huge toll on a senior’s health. Growing older while in retirement should be an opportunity to expand creativity and sharpen the mind. Seniors can enhance their health and well-being by fostering special connections through social networks. So if your senior loved one is suffering from loneliness, allow them to open their own social media account and live a meaningful social life.