How Facebook Helps Seniors Battle Loneliness posted on: 11-03-2011

Senior Citizens Learn Social Media

Social Media for Seniors

Assisted and independent living residents struggling with loneliness are learning how to use email, Facebook, and Twitter to reconnect with old friends.

Classes on how to use Facebook are becoming very popular with senior citizens in the U.S., who say that social networking reduces depression and fights memory loss.

Senior centers, retirement homes and assisted living facilities nationwide are now offering computer classes that branch off into specific courses focusing on social networking and teaching older adults how to engage with these tools.  According to a recent article in the Atlantic, these classes are gaining in popularity, as seniors realize they can stay ‘connected’ to their loved ones, grandchildren in particular, who are generally ‘online’ every day.

The 74-plus demographic is the fastest growing demographic among social networks, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project and it makes a lot of sense why.  As adults move into older age, the spatial and social barriers they encounter start taking their toll.  Isolation, loneliness, and depression are commonly experienced as family and friends move away and are less accessible, and as individual mobility and independence start to decline.

In a recent study by Sheila Cotten, a Sociology Professor at the University of Alabama, it was revealed that Internet usage reduces the likelihood of depression by 30 percent for older adults who used it regularly.  The  elder participants said that after learning about social media they felt that the world seemed bigger to them, and that they were no longer feeling left behind with respect to technology.

So……have you ‘facebooked’ Grandma today?