Training Elderly in Social Media Has Health Benefits

Training Elderly in Social Media Has Health Benefits Training older people in the use of social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being, according to a study carried out in the UK. A two-year project funded by the European Union and led by the University of Exeter in partnership with Somerset Care Ltd and Torbay & Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust gave a group of vulnerable older adults a specially-designed computer, broadband connection and training in how to use them.

Those who received training became more positive about computers over time, with the participants particularly enjoying connecting with friends and relatives via Skype and email. It found that those trained had heightened feelings of self-competence, engaged more in social activity, had a stronger sense of personal identity and showed improved cognitive capacity. These factors indirectly led to overall better mental health and well-being. Dr Thomas Morton of Psychology at the University of Exeter, who led the project in the UK said: ‰ÛÏHuman beings are social animals, and it‰Ûªs no surprise that we tend to do better when we have the capacity to connect with others. But what can be surprising is just how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health. People who are socially isolated or who experience loneliness are more vulnerable to disease and decline. For these reasons finding ways to support people‰Ûªs social connections is a really important goal. This study shows how technology can be a useful tool for enabling social connections, and that supporting older people in our community to use technology effectively can have important benefits for their health and well-being.‰Û One of the study‰Ûªs participants, Margaret Keohone, said: ‰ÛÏHaving this training changes people‰Ûªs lives and opens up their worlds, invigorates their minds and for lots of us gives us a completely different way of recognizing our worth as we age.åÊ I was just slipping away into a slower way of life.‰Û For more information visit: