Social media is something most people today use to stay connected with friends and family. Whether its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other popular forms of social media, weve gotten so proficient at using it that we take its value and importance for granted, so much so that we have become blind to how valuable it can be to the seniors in our lives.

Just because you get older does not mean your need to socialize lessens. In fact, it may be more important with advancing years. Research has shown that seniors who are socially engaged live healthier lives and experience a lower risk of cognitive decline. Older adults who are active socially are also less prone to feelings of depression, loneliness, and isolation. Recent studies report that seniors who are socially engaged experience an overall higher quality of life.

So, if being active socially is so beneficial to seniors, why dont more seniors participate?

The answer is that most seniors become less socially engaged through no fault of their own. Its a fact of life that as people age, their social lives tend to slow down for unwanted reasons such as declining health, the loss of close friends and distance from their families loved ones. They experience a loss of social capital, a term that refers to bonds they have with people that build trust, connection, and participation in life.

Fortunately, more and more seniors are turning to social media as an effective way to reconnect with the people that give meaning to their lives. Its estimated that about one in four people over the age of 65 are active on social media and that around fifty percent of seniors who use the internet are active on social media platforms. Because the smart phone and computer social media apps are easy to use and navigate even for less technologically adept seniors friends and family members should get the seniors in their lives involved in it by instructing them how to utilize the platforms.

Facebook is the most popular form of social media for seniors. The reasons seniors use Facebook is because it allows them to bond socially, respond to family posts and explore their curiosity and interests. Social media enables seniors to stay in frequent touch with their children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. They can reconnect with old friends from whom they may have been separated from by distance. It also gives them the chance to meet new people who share their same interests and it creates new, exciting opportunities for learning, growth, education, and activities.

When mentoring a senior on how to use social media, its important to explain what they should avoid on the various platforms. Not everyone on social media has good intentions. There are grifters and scam artists who post questionable things designed to take advantage of trusting seniors. Advise the senior in your family to limit their social media engagements to people they know and its essential that you check in on your senior occasionally to see what posts they are interested in, who they are responding to and for what reasons.

Every family member wishes they could spend more time with the elders in their lives, but thats not always possible. Social media platforms can bridge the gap and allow you to stay in touch with your older loved ones so that everyone feels connected to each other in ways that give meaning to your lives.

You may face some initial resistance from seniors who are intimidated by technology, but once you show them how simple it is to use and how it can enrich their lives, youll create a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Technology is a wonderful thing when used wisely. Teach the seniors in your life about social media and watch how wonderful their lives become when they know they are connected with the people they love

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