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How social media is benefiting the health of older users

7th September 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

As online social platforms have become the go-to form of communication between younger generations, there has been a steady increase in the amount of older people using social media in a bid to carry on living a healthy and sociable life.

A recent study which was carried out in the UK and Italy has identified many positives to older people using social media, both physically and mentally. 

The two-year project focused on 120 vulnerable older people from the south west of England and the region of Marche, Italy, both of which are renowned for the longevity of the occupants. One group was given special computers equipped with social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as Skype and email programmes with full, comprehensive training. The other half of the group received their normal care routine.

The results were astonishing, with one of the participants being “amazed” by how much social media and online connectivity and communication has benefited their life.

Speaking to The Guardian, Margaret Keohane, a participant in the study, said: “It’s brought fun into my life again. It’s changed my life.

“Everyone will tell you, I’m a different person. I’ve lost weight. My hair was grey. It’s blonde now. I’ve started taking care of my appearance again. My life feels bigger now. I was slipping away into a slower pace of life. I feel invigorated.”

It is easy to see why many of the participants had such positive feedback, as messaging channels enabled with a broadband connection such as Skype allow two or more people to hold a video call with their loved ones from all over the world, from the comfort of their rise and recline chairs.

The number of older people using online communication platforms and social media has increased from 9% in 2006 to 37% in 2013, but more is needed to be done to keep the figure rising, such as affordable technology and training to help promote the benefits of social media for older users.