Isolation is not a new issue when it comes to senior care. Unfortunately, reasons that vary from loss to mobility can lead more seniors to seek solace alone than with a group of peers. This isolation can quickly lead to depression, and other serious issues like a continued lack of mobility or memory issues. However, while isolation and depression are not new senior issues, there are plenty of advances being made in the technological realm that are quite new. New approaches to giving seniors a feeling of connectedness and engagement are now just a click, or a “like”, away. This new senior social media is a wise tool to add to your toolbox for combatting depression.
Depression Rooted in Isolation
For many seniors and residents within senior care communities, depression is multifaceted. A major contributor to age related depression is the social isolation that often comes with age. Lifelong friends who were just a drive away are too hard to reach when driver licenses are not renewed. Family members move away or becomes busy with other obligations. Decreased endurance and extended spells of illness can lead to missed social events. This isolation can sneak up on an otherwise happy and well adjusted senior, leading to a social network loss that can result in feelings of sadness or depression.
The Cure for Isolation
The cure for isolation is not necessarily friendship. Instead, it is a reliable network of support and encouragement, given by peers. While it is certainly ideal for this peer network to be only a few steps away, this isn’t always the case. This is where senior social media steps in and can make a difference beyond the sometimes forced peer groups at bingo or movie night within a senior care community.
Keeping Residents Connected
Feelings of connectedness can be in face to face interactions, or within the scope of senior social media. Now, seniors can keep up on grandkids at college through Facebook posts and with old neighborhood gossip via email or internet chatting. Online support groups can provide new friendships and support, while other social media sites, like Instagram or Pinterest, can provide new learning opportunities and creative inspiration. Finally, senior care communities can get in on the game by posting menus, event calendars, announcements, and other customized information online to encourage connection between neighbors. All in all, the internet and senior social media is full of chances to learn new things, interact with friends near and far, and reduce isolation and feelings of depression.
Making it Happen
Senior social media is a relatively new concept, with some senior living communities just now introducing WiFi availability to residents. However, tech savvy communities are already seeing positive results from beginning users to more advanced internet seniors. To encourage feelings of connectedness, communities are headed past WiFi passwords and are searching for platforms that will make it easy for seniors of all internet experiences to get online. Communities should find an interface that is easy to use and that can lead to successful online interactions for residents and family members to maximize engagement potential.
Isolation doesn’t have to be a part of the aging process, especially in this technological age. How will your community fight depression with engaged residents?
How do you currently use social media with your residents? How could you increase the internet opportunities for your residents? What stereotypes may you be dealing with at your community that could prevent social media connections?