2016-10-26 / Columns

Benefits of being connected for today’s social (networking) senior

Acting CEO/ Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 65% of American adults utilize social networking websites, with usage among those age 65 and older tripling since 2010. In 2015, it was reported that 35% of seniors use some form of social media, compared to just 2% in 2005. What does this all mean? It means that seniors have adopted social media at a higher rate than any other demographic.

Social media is no longer exclusively for the younger generation. Over the years, seniors have become much more comfortable using computers and the Internet. And now, they’re becoming more involved with social networking—and loving it.

Pew Research Center reports have documented how the rise of social media has had a profound effect on many aspects of life—all around the world— such as work, politics, media consumption, dating, the way in which information is shared and received, and even people’s stress levels.

 The Senior Social Network.

Why are seniors on social networks? One of the main uses for seniors is a way to bridge the gap between themselves and their loved ones—whether it’s a generational gap or geographic one. Social media sites, like Facebook and Skype, give seniors a way to engage and connect with their family and friends like they’ve never had before. Seniors may be able to find an old college roommate or even a good friend from the neighborhood where they grew up. It’s a revolution in the way people build and cultivate relationships with each other.

But keeping in touch is only part of the story. According to www.seniornet.org, seniors are finding a host of other benefits when it comes to using social media, including:

Research & Learning: Social media offers many new—and easy—avenues for seniors to learn more about topics that interest them or even to discover new interests. Whether they’re taking an educational course, reading an online book or searching for the latest research about a particular issue, the information is available with the click of a button.

Asking Questions: Online tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogs and live chats empower seniors to ask questions and get answers quickly, without having to navigate frustrating phone menus.

Entertainment: Favorite old TV shows and movies, e-books, articles and blog posts on topics of interest are readily available. Seniors can also play online games with friends both near and far.

Sharing: Seniors are wise, and there is much value to be found in their life experiences. Social media allows seniors to share about their life and network with others.

Retirement Planning: More seniors are using social media to find out what’s happening in the world of retirement and financial planning by researching the latest retirement information, plans and advice. In fact, according to a study by Springfield Insurance Company, more than 71% of their retirement plan applicants use one or more social networking sites on a regular basis.

Business: Many seniors are spending time on social networks such as LinkedIn for business purposes. These days, seniors are staying active longer and many are working into their “retirement years.” The Internet and social media provide a variety of opportunities for operating a business from home or for finding new job opportunities.

Support: Social networking also gives seniors access to a variety of health information relevant to their age group. Through online forums, chat rooms and blogs, they can communicate with others, share information, become better educated, and even find ways to better manage and cope with various illnesses or ailments. Social networks have, in some ways, become virtual support groups.

 Senior Living Communities Use Social Media, Too.

Retirement communities are also finding social media to be a convenient and effective way to encourage connections and wellness in daily life. Not only is it a great way for residents and families to stay aware of what’s happening within the community, but with regular use it can help to keep the mind active and lessen feelings of isolation and loneliness.

 The Group Keeps Growing.

As the Baby Boomers continue to age and seniors become more and more technologically savvy, the digital world will continue to play an important role in keeping seniors connected and engaged in all aspects of life.


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