Millennials aren’t the only ones using social media these days. In the past 10 years, senior internet use has increased by over 150%, making it the demographic with the highest increase in online use.
Seniors are trading in their old “flip phones” for smartphones. Since 2013, smartphone use amongst seniors has quadrupled, and as of 2018, 71% of seniors are online daily and almost 40% are active on social media. Smartphones allow seniors to stay connected with friends and family through talk, text and email.
While seniors are busy on social media, they aren’t using it in the same way as younger generations. Social media allows them to connect to educational and informational content. Health forums and chat rooms have grown in popularity amongst seniors looking to connect with others experiencing similar health issues. It is a place for them to give each other advice and offer different resources.
As senior’s interest in the online world increases in size, so does the popularity of computer and social media classes at senior centers around the country. At Regency Park Senior Living communities, we help keep our residents connected and engaged at our “internet cafes” as well as offering social media classes.
Skype and Facetime allow our residents to close the geographical gap with friends and family members that live far away, while Facebook is giving them an avenue to reconnect with old friends or relatives they haven’t seen or talked to in years. Another positive of this trend amongst seniors is grandparents getting to enjoy more Facetime with their grandkids.
A research study conducted by a geriatric professor and Alzheimer’s expert at UCLA has shown that neural activity significantly increases in seniors doing online searches, even for those doing searches as infrequently as one time a week. Similarly, a study out of England and Italy found that seniors who are online and using social media showed increased physical and mental capacity as opposed to a control group that was not connected and showed continued cognitive decline.
The benefits of seniors being online and using social media is clearly evident, and at Regency Park Senior Living we encourage and facilitate our residents’ use of these helpful – and healthful - tools.