When we think of social media, it usually conjures up images of young people gazing into their iPhones with their thumbs flying as they post photos, share articles and exchange messages. However, social media is no longer the exclusive property of the younger generation.
Rather, social media is opening up an enjoyable and highly beneficial new world to older Americans.
A Healthy Connection to the World Around You
“Today, retirement-age Americans are among the fastest growing demographic group on Facebook according to Pew Research Center and other sources,” says Kathy Kammer, Senior Director of Community Relations at Williamsburg Landing, a leading continuing care retirement community in Williamsburg, Va. “And for good reason!
“Senior adults are using Facebook, Skype, FaceTime and other forms of social media for a variety of reasons, including staying connected with family members who are not within easy visiting distance; reaching out to friends and former classmates they may not have seen for years; and visiting websites that cater to their unique interests such as gardening, sports, birdwatching, book reviews and political news.
“In addition to fulfilling various personal needs, gerontologists and other health experts say that social media also offers various health benefits that promote overall well-being. In particular, use of social media is a simple and convenient way for seniors to maintain a healthy connection with the outside world. This is extremely important for older adults, especially if they are living alone.
“Isolation and loneliness have been linked to depression, declining health and even premature death in research studies. Conversely, regular social engagement and interaction with others has proven to be a very important component of a healthy lifestyle, which promotes physical and emotional health, brain health and a longer life.”
The Many Uses of Social Media for Seniors
The uses of social media for older Americans are numerous and constantly expanding as new technologies evolve. Seniornet.org and other sites provide a useful sampling of the various ways seniors are taking advantage of social media today by viewing videos and live feeds, sharing pictures, reading articles and having conversations. For example:
- Staying in Touch – Social media is an ideal tool for keeping seniors in touch with their adult children, grandchildren and family members they may not have seen in years. Seniors are also connecting with long lost friends, neighbors and schoolmates.
- Learning – Seniors are now active in lifelong learning by taking courses online and reading online books, posts, articles and more to keep their minds active and their knowledge current. They are learning new languages, developing new skills and discovering more about history, science and faraway places.
- Entertainment and Personal Interests – They watch old television shows and movies, as well as find videos from “back in the day” without leaving home. They can read eBooks, articles and blog posts on favorite hobbies and topics of interest and connect with like-minded people. They can play a variety of games, either by themselves or with family and friends.
- Shopping and Bargain Hunting – Taking advantage of sales and online opportunities is another way seniors, who often live on fixed incomes, are using social media. By following their favorite businesses and brands, seniors save money by accessing special promotional opportunities. Often, free offers and discounts are only available via a Facebook page or for Twitter followers.
- Social Sharing – Many older Americans are creating their own Facebook pagesand sharing stories, photos, opinions and favorite articles. They have a lifetime of knowledge and experience and some use it share their wisdom and advice for the benefit of others.
If you are a novice to social media and need help getting started, don’t worry, you are not alone. If you do not have a web savvy family member to teach you the basics, there are many resources available today.
According to Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, senior advocate and writer, “Computer classes at senior centers are growing in popularity. Classes on computer basics, as well as instruction in using email and other social media platforms such as Facebook, have become more common. In fact, the Jewish Council for the Aging in Washington, D.C. offers an entire SeniorTech program. DorotUSA has a whole program called University Without Walls specifically designed for seniors who are homebound where they get to participate in stimulating classes and lectures through their computer or tablet.”
Kamieladds, “In addition, AARP features an online Social Media Education Center that is ideal for teaching retirement age adults how to use various aspects of social media to full advantage.”
“And right here on our beautiful Williamsburg Landing campus, you’ll find a fully-equipped Library and Internet Room where you can learn, explore and discover to your heart’s content. With a multitude of other on-site amenities, we set the standard for active, resort-style living. Here, you can pursue a vibrant, fulfilling lifestyle and experience retirement living at its finest.”
Welcome to Williamsburg Landing
Looking for a vibrant, engaging and fulfilling way of life? If so, you’ll find it at Williamsburg Landing.
Nestled on 137 wooded acres along the serene banks of College Creek in Williamsburg, Va., Williamsburg Landing is the premier, not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) serving Williamsburg and its surrounding areas since 1985. With one visit, you’ll understand what makes Williamsburg Landing so special.
Williamsburg Landing is an ideal blend of beautiful landscaping and elegant, Colonial architecture. It invites residents to become part of its vibrant, active lifestyle and rest-assured in its award-winning medical care. It eases worries with maintenance-free homes and apartments with resort-style amenities and services. The community thrives with energetic, involved and friendly people who love to live here and the warmth of dedicated, committed professionals who love to work here.
With a past rich in tradition and a future filled with promise, Williamsburg Landing is the perfect place to call home – for today and tomorrow.