The world of social media isn’t just for the millennial generation any more. In fact, Facebook activity shows that the largest demographic for new accounts is those over the age of 60. The Boomers are stepping out of their comfort zones and heading into social media space to keep up with friends, family, and current events. Senior social media is a growing space where senior living communities are sometimes hesitant to join.
Residents moving into senior housing communities, from independent living to skilled nursing, are no longer just looking for an active programming calendar and spacious apartment. Indeed, residents are looking for communities to have the senior social media capabilities for residents to connect to their neighbors, and to the internet. WiFi access is paramount in hooking the younger senior set, as well as a speedy connection that doesn’t cause significant lag time when residents and staff are trying to be online simultaneously.
For older residents, senior social media has many benefits that range from an increased feeling of connection to decreased feelings of isolation and depression. However, there are also plenty of risks that come when a senior becomes a social media beginner or novice. Dishonest people lurk on social media newsfeeds, giving misinformation and asking for confidential information that a new social media user could fall victim to. So, how do you offer the benefits of social media connection while keeping your residents safe and responsible?
Connect in designated spaces
Residents, especially those that aren’t quite advanced in their social media skills, may have lots of questions when they are first experimenting with their accounts. Keep these beginners connected in a designated space – such as the activity room or living room – where staff members are available for quick questions or advice.
If your community has a designated IT department, ask a staff member to lead regular Social Media Beginner classes for residents who are interested in setting up a Facebook account to keep up with family and friends, or just to see what all the buzz is about. If you don’t have someone from IT available to lead a regular class, your Life Enrichment or Activity Director should be able to effectively lead classes for beginners and extra classes for more advanced users.
Keep them safe
Invite members of your local senior task force at the police department to give quarterly presentations that discuss the risks of internet scams and how to avoid becoming a victim. Invite family and friends to these presentations as well.
Make it easy
Investigate senior specific technology that consolidate social media accounts, email, and even video calling into an easy to use interface. Even the most hesitant residents will respond to social media connections when it is easy to navigate, use, and read.
Social media offers your residents the chance to keep up with family, friends, current events, and your own senior community. Experiment with posting your menu and activity calendar online, and be sure announcements make it to your social media pages as well so that your residents can practice interacting with your online presence. Practice makes perfect!
How have you helped your residents join the social media arena? What benefits have you seen when residents engage with social media?