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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on July 5th, 2016

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Tips for Helping Seniors Go Social

Aging & Caregiving

helping seniors go socialWhile seniors are fast growing users of digital technology, there are some obstacles to adoption among the 65 and over set. Social media, in particular, can be imposing territory, and yet it also offers plentiful payoffs for those who persevere. If you’ve thought about introducing your aging loved one to social media but have never done so, now might be the perfect time to make that connection. Let’s take a closer look at older adults and social media, along with tips for helping seniors get social.

 

Why is Social Media Important for Seniors?

A growing body of evidence points to profound benefits for seniors who use social media. In an era in which families are more widespread than ever, resulting in escalated incidences of senior isolation, social media serves a vital purpose in keeping people in touch. Following friends and family members via social media, older adults feel more engaged and involved in the lives of loved ones. From updates on what’s going on to photo and video sharing, social media is ripe with ways to help seniors connect with the world around them.

Social media is also a platform through which seniors can share their own stories and feel a greater sense of meaning in their own lives. And just like the rest of us, seniors can also use social media for research and learning to entertainment and amusement.

Research even indicates that older people who use social media lower their stress levels and heart rates while boosting their brain power!

 

Tips For Helping Seniors Get Connected

While more than half of seniors are now internet users, not all have made their way into the social sphere. Of those who haven’t yet gone social, 56 percent say they’d need assistance from friends and family members when learning to use sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.

If you’re introducing your aging loved one to social media, patience is the key. Seniors may feel a broad range of emotions when adapting to new technology, including apprehension, frustration, and confusion. The more patient you are while teaching your aging loved one, the more comfortable he'll become. To ensure the learning process goes so smoothly, try to pair your loved one with a family member or friend who will be able to provide steady instruction with plenty of hands-on guidance. (If you are a primary caregiver and manage multiple responsibilities for your loved one, you may find you have little patience left to dive into this area. If that’s the case, avoid the additional frustration and let someone else help out.)

Not sure where to start? You’re not alone. The AARP has assembled a handy Social Media Education Center comprising everything seniors need to know to get on board with going social. From introducing potential users to the major platforms to “Blogging Basics,” this can be an invaluable resource for seniors and their caregivers alike. Additionally, your local community college or senior center may also offer in-person classes on social media.

While social media can sometimes get a bad rap, the truth is that it has significant benefits for older adults. And while teaching your aging loved one to use social media can be a challenge, your gentle support in doing so can lead to stronger social networks and enhanced cognitive function. And what's not to "Like" about that?

 

Key Takeaways

  • While seniors are increasingly tackling new technologies, they often need help in doing so.
  • Social media, in particular, offers profound benefits to seniors.
  • Caregivers can help seniors gain access to the advances of social media use by remaining patient, encouraging and supportive throughout the learning process.
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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.