How Social Media Can Help the Elderly Overcome Isolation

Elderly people working together on computer>

We all know that with age comes wisdom, but unfortunately for many of today’s elderly, with age also comes loneliness. When we reach a certain age, we lose touch with people in our lives uncontrollably. Our spouses pass away, our friends pass away, we retire from our jobs, we move away—all of these events force us to be alone.

Loneliness can turn into depression, and a severe depression can sometimes result in suicide, and senior citizens have the highest suicide rate. Rather than continuing to be lonely, many elderly individuals are turning to social media sites to overcome their isolation.

Sites such as Facebook allow users to connect with people they know and provide them with a way to stay in touch. The elderly are using this site (and sites like it) to locate people in their lives whom they may have forgotten or lost touch with. Social networking sites allow them to have conversations with others, play games or view pictures of old friends.

Social networking also lets the elderly join in on events they may not physically be able to attend. For example, if an elderly woman lives in Florida and cannot attend the college graduation of her grandchild in another state, she can use social networking to see pictures and talk with her grandchild about the event. Elderly individuals can now keep track of extended family and stay in touch with their current events. This can help the elderly know about big events in other peoples’ lives, such as marriages and births.

Some social networking sites may also help senior citizens find other seniors in their area with the same interests. They can initially meet with these new friends online and schedule lunch dates or meet-ups. This is especially good for those seniors who may have recently moved to a new neighborhood and don’t know many others in the area.

As senior citizens, maintaining a social life can become difficult. Depending on their health, some seniors find it hard to leave the house and meet up with friends and family. If they can no longer drive, it can be a lot of work trying to find a method of transportation. Social networking sites allow seniors to remain connected with their friends without the hassle.

Along with staying connected with friends and family, social networking can help the elderly overcome isolation in other ways. Social networking sites can be a form of entertainment. Most social networking sites allow users to play games, stay on top of current event or watch videos. Rather than flip through TV stations trying to find something interesting, they can search for what they want directly and spend time being entertained by something that actually interests them.

Social networks can also introduce seniors to a new hobby. They may notice a craft on Pinterest, for example, that interests them. They can then join groups or meet other people who are interested in the same hobby.

While social networking in no way, shape or form replaces physical social interaction, it provides the elderly with a way to stay connected in an otherwise lonely world.

About the Author: Gertrude Hornsby is a retired school teacher and grandmother living in sunny Florida. To save time when she sends letters to her relatives she instantly proofs her grammar and sentence structure using a grammar checker. In her free time she enjoys reading at the beach, going to the movies, and picking up her grandchildren from school in her Nissan.

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