More than 40% of people over 65 are Tweeting, posting, or pinning on social media—and their presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram bodes well for their cognitive and social health. One study found that older adults who use Facebook had a significant increase in their ability to conduct complex memory tasks.
The Importance of Social Connections
Multiple studies have shown that lack of social connections can have negative consequences for our physical and mental health. In recent years, loneliness has been identified as a public health concern; the UK even established a Minister of Loneliness in 2018 to address the issue for citizens of all ages, with a particular emphasis on older adults who may be aging alone.
Research has indicated that connecting with others online provides many of the same benefits as connecting in person: one study revealed that older social media users reported greater satisfaction with life and fewer depressive symptoms and chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure and diabetes) than those who don’t use social media. The lead researcher of the study explains, “As we know, close relationships with other people are a large determinant of physical health and well-being, and social technology has the potential to cultivate successful relationships among older adults.”
A Case Study in Connecting
For some, connecting on Facebook and other platforms can be a social lifeline; for the majority of users, these platforms offer an unprecedented way to stay in contact with friends and family around the world, sharing photos and videos along with news in real time.
“My life would be so different without social media. I’d be so cut off from friends and family,” says Teri Sullivan, a resident at Splendido, an all-inclusive community in Oro Valley for those 55 and better. “We use Facebook to stay in touch with our kids and grandkids; our family is spread out across the United States. We have 14 grandchildren, and those age 12 and older are very active on social media. I get to see what they’re doing now… it’s a real gift!”
Teri also uses Facebook to connect with “at least 100 friends,” including friends from high school. “I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do that,” she points out.
Teri is also active on Splendido’s Facebook page. “I originally liked Splendido’s page because I live here, I’m happy here, and I want my friends on Facebook to see where I live and what’s happening here. I comment on Splendido’s posts so that my friends can see what I’m up to,” she explains.
If you are on Facebook and would like to connect with Splendido, find us at facebook.com/splendidotucson.