Study shows how social media can prevent decline in older people’s health
- 16 Dec
An Exeter study has found that elderly people should use Facebook and other social media websites to prevent their health declining.
According to the research, older people who spend time online do not feel as lonely as others their age, which could slow down the deterioration of physical and mental health. Reports Exeter Express and Echo.
This two-year project conducted by the University of Exeter in partnership with Somerset Care Ltd and Torbay & Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust involved a group of 76 old people ranging from 60 - 95 years old. Their backgrounds were varied; as some were chosen from those receiving care in the community and others chosen from those living in any of the not-for-profit organisation's 26 residential care homes.
They were given a specially-designed computer, broadband connection and training in how to use them. Over time, half of the participants who received training as opposed to the other half who received normal care became more positive about computers. it was found that the participants mostly enjoyed connecting with friends and relatives via Skype and email.
Those trained showed intensified feelings of self-competence, were more socially engaged, had a stronger sense of personal identity and showed improved intellectual capacity. These factors led indirectly led to better mental health and well-being.
Experts concluded that these results could help cope with the health problems of an increasingly ageing population.
Dr Thomas Morton of the University of Exeter, who led the project in the UK stated, "Human beings are social animals, and it's no surprise that we tend to do better when we have the capacity to connect with others. But what can be surprising is just how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health. People who are socially isolated or who experience loneliness are more vulnerable to disease and decline. For these reasons finding ways to support people's social connections is a really important goal. This study shows how technology can be a useful tool for enabling social connections, and that supporting older people in our community to use technology effectively can have important benefits for their health and well-being."
Margaret Keohone, a participant of the study stated, "Having this training changes people's lives and opens up their worlds, invigorates their minds and for lots of us gives us a completely different way of recognising our worth as we age. I was just slipping away into a slower way of life."
Emma Green, the Care Technologist from Somerset Care who delivered training to those in the study stated, "As the training programme developed with my participants their confidence grew and they were keen to tell me how family members had emailed back, Skyped or ‘liked' a comment or a picture on Facebook. Seeing the smiles on my participant's faces when they Skyped a family member in the UK or abroad was such a special moment".
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This blog post has been written by our sister company The Media Bubble who specialise in social media for the social sector.
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