When you consider that some seniors were around before the advent of television, it is no wonder that they may be resistant to new technology and especially social media. For many seniors, computers are intimidating, but it is critical for family members and the healthcare community to encourage seniors to get involved in social media.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review points to several studies that show social interactions could lead to a smarter, stronger brain. This is traditionally a huge focus in senior living communities, where social interactions are encouraged to promote overall wellness among their residents. Thanks to technology, these social interactions can now happen online.
Here are six reasons seniors should use social media.
- Keep in touch with family. As the body slows down, visiting old friends and even family can be difficult. Social media overcomes geography, helping seniors keep in touch with kids and grandkids. They can receive videos and photos and have live conversations with the push of a button.
- Find old friends. Ever wonder what happened to your Army buddy or high school sweetheart? One of the most amazing parts of social media sites like Facebook is that you can find people from your past and reconnect. This can be a thrilling experience for someone in a senior living community.
- Make new friend. When a 25-year-old in a major city complains that it is hard to meet new people, imagine how an 85-year-old in a senior living community feels. Limited mobility makes isolation a big problem for seniors. Traditional social media can certainly help find old friends. However, finding new friends on the same old sites is not practical for the aging. What seniors want is a simpler solution that lets them connect with other like-minded people right within their own local community. New social media sites geared toward seniors make it possible for seniors to broaden their horizons and find people with similar interests in their local community. The face-to-face interaction available through these sites helps seniors create an “active” lifestyle within their own environment.
- Keep working. Sixty-five is no longer the retirement age for most seniors, and while a daily commute into the nearest city may no longer be a viable option, digital and online opportunities for work are expanding at a rapid pace. Social media networking tools keep seniors from being forced into retirement. Moreover, senior living providers can easily post local jobs along with many volunteer positions so that seniors can continue to live an impactful and purposeful life.
- Learn and research. Having an endless library at your fingertips is a luxury that seniors did not have growing up. When most seniors take the leap and begin to use the Internet and search sites like Google, they are astonished at how much there is to learn. Learning keeps the brain active, which is critical to health and wellness. And active learning can lead to new hobbies or even business ideas.
- Help with gifting. For seniors who have grandkids, being a good gift giver is a core responsibility. Elder consumers can follow their favorite brands on Facebook and other sites and be alerted to sales and promotions. They can also see what is “new and hot” among the younger generation to help them come up with great gift ideas their grandchildren would love.
What are some other ways seniors can use social media to improve their health and wellness? Give us your ideas in the comments section.
Asif Khan is founder and CEO of Caremerge. The company forges meaningful connections between providers, families and seniors seeking to improve communication in today’s complex healthcare environment.