Seniors are rapidly embracing technology to stay informed about world events and keep in touch with friends and loved ones, whether they are aging in place at home or enjoying their life in an assisted living community.
Most seniors grew up with only three TV stations: ABC, NBC, and CBS. There were no cell phones, and the family phone was tethered to the wall with a long, twisty, ever-kinking phone cord.
There was no internet or social media at all.
Today, Florida seniors have access to hundreds of cable channels and thousands of movie and TV choices on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more.
Although they were late adopters, Florida seniors are embracing technology.
Seniors now keep in touch with friends and loved ones via cell phone texting, Facetime, and Zoom.
And social media platforms have become increasingly popular among seniors over the years. According to Pew Research, almost 60% of American seniors over age 65 are now online, increasing rapidly each year.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter allow seniors to stay connected with friends and family members, engage with diverse perspectives, and stay current on world events and local happenings.
Which social media platforms do seniors use, and how often do they use them? According to an AARP study, about 60% of people over 65 use Facebook, and about 50% use YouTube.
But unlike their children and grandchildren, seniors use other social media platforms sparingly; only 8% of seniors use Instagram, and 7% use Twitter.
But this beneficial technology is not without its risks. Seniors must understand the benefits of social media platforms and technology as they stay connected with their loved ones and communities.
The Benefits of Seniors Using Social Media
Staying Connected with Family and Friends:
Social media platforms allow seniors to stay connected with family members and friends, even when separated by geography. When seniors live far away from family or have travel and mobility issues, technology can bring them closer. When families share pictures of graduations, weddings, newborns, and vacations, seniors feel constantly connected, and the distance melts away.
Preventing Feelings of Loneliness, Isolation, and Depression:
With this instant connectivity, social media platforms help prevent feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression in seniors. Even when family members cannot visit as often as they would like, technology allows their senior loved one to feel like an active part of the family or group of friends. Many studies show connected seniors feel less lonely, isolated, or depressed. As an example, a study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing found that video chat interventions were effective in reducing loneliness and depression among older adults.
Keeping Seniors Cognitively Alert:
Seniors need to stay mentally active. Engaging with diverse perspectives and topics on social media platforms can help stimulate seniors’ cognitive function and improve their overall mental health. Seniors can also enhance their communication and critical thinking skills by interacting with content and communicating with others on social media.
Joining Groups with Common Interests:
Whatever subject your senior loved one is interested in, there is a YouTube channel with like-minded seniors. Seniors can easily join groups on social media platforms with common interests, such as collectibles, art, drawing, and more. If seniors want to exercise at home, Eldergym Fitness is on YouTube. And suppose seniors want to hear music in the style of the 40s, 50s, or any decade. In that case, they can join the almost 2 million listeners on Postmodern Jukebox. Or they can follow 85-year-old grandmother Shirley Curley as she plays and explains today’s online games to her million subscribers.
Staying Current on World Events and Local Happenings:
Social media platforms allow seniors to stay current on world and local events. For example, if seniors are living their best life in assisted living in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, or Ft. Myers, but much of their family still lives in Buffalo, New York, that is no problem. They can access the Buffalo WKBW YouTube channel anytime and be current with all local Buffalo news and weather. Social media helps seniors stay connected and informed with information important to them.
The Risks of Social Media for Seniors
Common Online Scams and Fraud Targeting Seniors:
Seniors are often targeted by online scammers and fraudsters who attempt to steal their personal and financial information. Seniors should be cautious when responding to unsolicited messages or requests for personal information and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
Many Youtube videos help keep seniors safe online, and AARP’s Senior Planet Channel teaches seniors to navigate online safely.
Risks of Cyberbullying and Online Harassment:
Social media platforms can also be a source of cyberbullying and online harassment. Seniors should be aware of the risks associated with online communication and report any instances of cyberbullying or harassment to the appropriate authorities.
Privacy Concerns and the Importance of Protecting Personal Information:
Seniors should be careful about sharing personal information on social media platforms and ensure that their privacy settings are up-to-date. It is important to protect personal information to prevent identity theft and other forms of online fraud.
How Seniors Can Stay Safe on Social Media
Tips for Creating Strong and Secure Passwords:
Seniors should create strong and secure passwords for all their social media accounts. It is also important to use different passwords for each account to prevent hackers from accessing multiple accounts if one password is compromised.
Importance of Regularly Updating Privacy Settings:
Seniors should regularly update their privacy settings on social media platforms to ensure their personal information is always protected. Be mindful of the information shared on social media, including personal information, photos, and videos.
For example, most people need to learn that when you send or post a picture, you may be sending extra information like the date it was taken and the photo’s exact location. But you can easily remove this information before posting the picture to keep your private information confidential.
Top Tips to Stay Safe on Social Media
Here are some practical steps seniors can take to stay safe online:
Set strong passwords and use two-factor authentication when possible.
Avoid sharing personal information, such as your full name, address, or phone number.
Be cautious of unsolicited friend requests or messages, particularly from strangers.
Review and adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts and information.
Be cautious of online scams and fraud, such as phishing emails or phone calls.
Use reliable sources to verify information before sharing or reposting.
Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity or behavior to the platform or relevant authorities.
It’s also important for seniors to seek out reliable sources of information on social media safety and to stay informed about the latest online threats and scams. This can include following trusted news outlets or organizations that specialize in online safety, as well as staying in touch with family and friends who can provide support and guidance.
Social media and technology help seniors stay in touch and feel connected with friends and loved ones. This reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation and keeps them actively engaged as they age.
Whether aging in place at home or moving into assisted living, your senior loved ones need to have excellent Wi-Fi and access to technology to stay connected. This can be as simple as a smartphone or tablet or an inexpensive laptop computer. And many computer makers like Dell and Apple have laptops with features for hearing, visual, and mobility impaired users.
We understand seniors and are there every step of the way.
If your senior loved one chooses to age at home, we assess them, their surroundings, and their needs. We help secure the best health care and related services for them.
And if they choose assisted living, we narrow down the choices with your senior loved ones to pick the best communities available. We tour the community with you and your senior and introduce you to the staff and services.
One of our greatest strengths at Florida Senior Consulting is helping seniors age in place at home or make a smooth, happy, and fulfilling transition into their chosen assisted living community. And technology can play a big part in either choice.
We help coordinate the moving process and ensure your senior is moving into a new home environment, not just a few rooms.
But most importantly, and different from other Florida senior companies, we stay involved and meet with seniors in-person for the first three months to ensure a smooth, happy, and successful transition. We visit with your senior and check in with the staff. We coordinate with you so you know your senior is receiving their needed care.
And we ensure they can easily communicate and stay in touch with family and friends.
This is part of our mission, and we do it every day.
We work daily with seniors, assisted living communities, home health care, elder care attorneys, hospitals, rehab facilities, financial and real estate professionals, and more.
We are a Florida-based company with expert knowledge of the Florida senior market. We know how to help with the move to assisted living while ensuring a smooth transition into the new community.
While senior options can seem confusing, this is all we do.
Florida Senior Consulting helps seniors decide their next best steps to live their best lives safely and securely.
We have certified staff, professional nurse advocates, and decades of experience in the field.
Senior living should be on your terms, and the choice should always be yours.
Call us, and we will answer all your questions and help you decide what is best for you or your senior loved one.