5 Ways Social Media Benefits You & Your Loved One
Connecting with a friend, seeing photos of the grandkids, or playing a word game with a distant family member are just a few of the many ways to use social media to stay socially active and engaged.
Social media refers to apps or websites that connect individuals with others. The goal of social media is to connect us with those that we don’t see regularly and helps to preserve, as well as build relationships.
For caregivers and older adults, social media can be a bridge to the rest of the community and have positive impacts on emotional and physical wellbeing.
What Are The 5 Benefits Of Using Social Media?
Social media has five major benefits on the lives of older adults. Here, we’ll discuss the ways in which social media can positively impact your loved one’s life.
1. Reduces Feelings Of Loneliness & Isolation
One of the greatest challenges of aging is the increased risk of isolation.
Due to health concerns, changes in mobility, or the loss of loved ones, many older adults report feelings of loneliness and isolation. This has a detrimental impact on mental health and well-being and has been exasperated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, younger adults who identify as caregivers are also more prone to isolation due to the responsibilities associated with caring for their loved ones. They may have limited time or lack the ability to leave their loved one alone and not have access to respite options.
Social media has the power to be a tool to reduce isolation in both older adults and caregivers by connecting people with others both near and far. Through social media platforms such as Facebook, individuals can connect with family members, friends, and community members - commonly referred to as “social networking”. They can share photos, updates, and even events with one another.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people also began to take advantage of joining events virtually, broadening the opportunity for older adults and caregivers to participate in family events, regardless of their ability to leave the home in real-time.
2. It’s Educational & Supportive
While we want to be cautious about the information that we are ingesting on social media platforms, social media can be an opportunity to learn more about a disease your loved one may have, as well as gain the support of others in similar situations.
Online support groups can be great opportunities to learn about a disease, share experiences and resources, and gain emotional support to cope with the challenges of caregiving.
Through joining virtual caregiver support groups, caregivers can build their social connections in ways they may not have been able to without social media.
3. Keeps You & Your Loved One’s Mind Active
Do you like word games? If so, you’re in luck.
Social media offers many games like word games like Words with Friends and a number of puzzles to help keep your mind active.
Some healthy competition with friends can keep you and your loved one connected and give you both something to do together, even from a distance.
Even online, games and puzzles can keep your mind stimulated and engaged. There are so many options to choose from to meet your and your loved one’s interests. If you’re looking to get physically active, you can even use social media and technology to find online exercise programs to follow along at home.
4. Keeps Family In The Loop
If you’re a caregiver for an older adult, you may find social media to be one way to keep other family members and friends in the loop.
Social media offers a platform to provide updates and request assistance as needed.
Loved ones who live at a distance may feel disconnected from the care being provided, but want to be kept up to date. However, for a primary caregiver, communicating changes or updates to other family members may feel like one more task to keep up with.
Luckily, social media can help keep everyone on the same page. Using a shared calendar or even a care coordination site to coordinate care and keep family members in the loop can be a great help.
Family and friends may be able to set up notifications when changes occur or when appointments are happening. Having notifications automated about a loved one’s test results or upcoming doctor’s appointments can make life as a caregiver a bit easier.
Social media can make it easy - though you do want to be cautious about making sure you’re sharing information in a private setting.
5. It’s Accessible
Perhaps the best part about social media is its accessibility.
Regardless of physical health, there are ways to utilize social media and reap the benefits of connection. Social media platforms can be accessed on any device that can connect to the internet such as an iPhone, cellphone, laptop, or tablet.
If the cost of these devices is prohibitive, explore local public service initiatives that aim to provide technology to older adults. This may be accessed through your local senior center or Agency on Aging Service Point.
Local services may also be able to help offset the cost of internet for older adults, depending on their eligibility.
What’s Social Media’s Connection To Healthcare?
Many healthcare institutions have modeled online portals off of social media platforms to make keeping in touch with their patients easy to use.
Caregivers and their loved ones can stay up to date with appointments, prescriptions, assessments, and more. This makes healthcare all the more accessible and helps the caregiver stay informed of their loved one’s health.
Through the use of wearable devices, some of these portals can even monitor vitals (for example, blood pressure or heart rate) and communicate it back to the health care provider.
Ready To Use Social Media With Your Loved One?
Whenever you are utilizing a new form of technology or social media, it’s always important to keep in mind the disclaimer to be cautious of what information you’re putting out and who you are connecting with.
As a caregiver, be sure to provide some oversight for your loved one to ensure they are staying safe while enjoying the benefits of technology. Social media can provide endless opportunities for older adults and caregivers, and more and more people are taking advantage of these benefits.