Social media, although frequently criticized, is a rapidly growing part of life. As such, it is the object of much fascination in the scientific world. Researchers are wondering whether or not Facebook and other forms of social media help or hurt the health of users. They join parents, users, politicians, and now caregivers of seniors in their concerns.

Yes, seniors are becoming an ever-growing pool of users and contributors to the social media newsfeed. In relation to this, a new study, which clearly identifies itself as preliminary, puts forth an interesting observation. Moderate Facebook usage, coupled with high offline social life, resulted in greater longevity.

Facebook Plus Real Life "Friending" Links to Longevity

The study was conducted at the University of California at Berkeley and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. It coupled Facebook users with non-users and compared their longevity. The official findings of the study indicated that "Mortality risk is lowest for those with high levels of offline social interaction and moderate levels of online social interaction." The researchers compared vital records and Facebook user data (retrieved through an association with Facebook, which agreed to cooperate). The results were unexpected. Facebook users with moderate online social interaction, as well as high offline social interaction, lived longest. "Friending" people, online and off, is a healthy practice.

There are plenty of opinions regarding the "proper" uses of social media. There are those who argue that it should not be used at all. However, social media is here to stay. The more people carry around smartphones and upload selfies for friends and family to see, the more its effects become entrenched. The study cited above begins a conversation within the scientific community, linking concern about social media's effects with scientific research. The result are intriguing.

As many caregivers know, seniors run the risk of becoming bored, isolated, and unhappy. Many seniors resist going into a facility to receive much-needed medical care for precisely this reason. They fear being outside of their communities, bereft, sad, and alone. Isolation can cause seniors to live shorter, more uncomfortable lives, as many studies suggest. This study shows that, with a computer or a smartphone, seniors and their loved ones can connect in ways that make life more interesting, fun, happy--and long.

Facebook for Longevity: Getting Started

Facebook profiles are free to make and maintain. Family members, especially social media savvy ones, can help seniors build profiles and add new "friends." Friends on Facebook can be family members, former coworkers, or even friends from high school or college! Seniors might be surprised at how many people from their pasts already have profiles and regularly interact on Facebook.

Once the senior has a good set of friends, he or she might want to explore the website. There are interest groups such as book clubs, knitting clubs, and explorer's organizations that travel to local parks or historic sites. There are political organizations too. Through exploring these interest groups, seniors can "meet" new people without leaving their homes. They can develop relationships that can translate into social activities offline.

One of the most important concerns when going online is security and privacy. Media savvy family members and caregivers should review Facebook's privacy and security settings and check in with their seniors about what they are and are not sharing online. It is best to discourage seniors from buying products from someone they do not know. Vibrant community resale pages can foster excellent relationships within communities online. However, unscrupulous people sometimes use social media to prey on the unsuspecting. Other social media networks, such as Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat are also all free and easy to use.

One of the keys that studies find with relative frequency is that social media use alone does not sustain happiness. In fact, a lack of moderation can lead to lower levels of happiness. In light of that, seniors must expand their social lives. Beyond online, seniors also require face-to-face interpersonal social experiences as often as possible. Elderly loved ones should be encouraged to participate in religious or community organizations which offer senior-oriented or senior-friendly social experiences. Caregivers can also help them join local clubs or organizations of mixed age groups, since the youngest and oldest generations often benefit from socializing with each other. Most facilities encourage social interaction through community activities. Family caregivers should encourage an elderly loved one in a facility to participate., knowing that social interaction helps people live longer, happier, and fuller lives.

Sources

Bromwich, John Engel. (October 31, 2016). Facebook Could Be Associated With a Longer Life, Study Finds. The New York Times. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/science/facebook-longer-life.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article&_r=0. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

Hobbs, William R., Burke, Mora, Christakis, Nicholas A., and Fowler, James H. (2016). Online social integration is associated with reduced mortality risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(46):12980-12984. Available at http://www.pnas.org/content/113/46/12980. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

Kendrick, Douglas T. (April 11, 2014). 7 Ways Facebook Is Bad for Your Mental Health. Psychology Today. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201404/7-ways-facebook-is-bad-your-mental-health. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

Kross, Ethan, Verduyn, Phillippe, Demiralp, Emre, Park, Jiyoung, Lee, David Seungjae, Lin, Natalie, Shablack, Holly, Jonides, John, and Ybarra, Oscar. (2013). Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. PLoS ONE, 8(8). Available at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069841. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

Welch, Ashley. (October 31, 2016). Study makes surprising discovery about Facebook users: they live longer. CBSNews.com. Available at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-users-live-longer-study-finds/. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

Related Articles

Elderly Nail Fungus: Prevention and Early Treatment Elderly Nail Fungus: Prevention and Early Treatment
Eight Common Elderly Problems to Look Out For Eight Common Elderly Problems to Look Out For
Simple Nutrition Tips for Seniors Simple Nutrition Tips for Seniors
Winning Dementia Patients’ Cooperation Winning Dementia Patients’ Cooperation
Ancestry and Other Genetic Mapping Services Ancestry and Other Genetic Mapping Services
Dental Insurance, Dental Care and Other Tips for Seniors Dental Insurance, Dental Care and Other Tips for Seniors
Obesity: What is Different for the Elderly Obesity: What is Different for the Elderly
Taste and Smell Change with Age: How Caregivers Can Help Taste and Smell Change with Age: How Caregivers Can Help
Study Shows Elderly People with Purpose and Meaning in Life Avoid Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Decline Study Shows Elderly People with Purpose and Meaning in Life Avoid Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Decline
Vitamin D Supplements:  Three Great Reasons Vitamin D Supplements: Three Great Reasons
World Health Health Day:  Our Favorite Articles on Senior Health World Health Health Day: Our Favorite Articles on Senior Health
Laser Therapy for Nail Fungus:  Is it Worth It? Laser Therapy for Nail Fungus: Is it Worth It?

Trending Topics

Review: The Best Pill Cutters (2020) Review: The Best Pill Cutters (2020)
8 Ways to Make New Friends After 60 8 Ways to Make New Friends After 60
Look to Seniors for Valuable Mentoring Look to Seniors for Valuable Mentoring
Apraxia and Dementia: Important Things to Know Apraxia and Dementia: Important Things to Know
Sensory Stimulation for People with Alzheimer’s and Dementia Sensory Stimulation for People with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Recent Articles

13 At-Home Activities For Seniors Besides Watching TV 13 At-Home Activities For Seniors Besides Watching TV
5 Ways To Combat Depression In Seniors 5 Ways To Combat Depression In Seniors
7 Ways For Seniors To Boost Their Immune System 7 Ways For Seniors To Boost Their Immune System
The Best Grab Bars Review 2020 The Best Grab Bars Review 2020
The Best Coffee Makers For Eldelry Persons Review 2020 The Best Coffee Makers For Eldelry Persons Review 2020

The material of this web site is provided for informational purposes only. SeniorsMatters.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment;or legal, financial or any other professional services advice. Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.