Elderly Surf the Web to Better Health

Elderly Surf the Web to Better Health

Thinking about getting Grandma set up on Skype or Facebook? Sign them up! Using social media can positively impact the health of the elderly, new research suggests.

It was found that spending time online had positive social benefits and could even help prevent pensioner’s health from declining, according to the research by the University of Exeter in the UK.

The study included people aged 65-95 from residential care homes across the UK and Italy.  There were two groups, one included participants who were trained in using email, Skype, Facebook and other social media, as well as a control group who received usual care.

The group who were trained to use the technology showed improvement in their cognitive abilities as well as becoming more sociable. Those who used social media also reported feeling less isolated due to being able to stay connected to relatives and friends.

The ability to use video chats such as Skype as well as communicating through email were listed as their favorite ways to stay in touch with loved ones. Around 75 percent of the participants who were  given computers and training found both e-mail and Skype useful but less than half found value in using Facebook.

The results highlight how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health, according to the researchers, adding that people who are socially isolated are more vulnerable to disease and decline in health.

It is estimated that the number of over-65s who use the internet increased from 9% in 2006 to 37% in 2013, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

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