More seniors are turning to the web in order to expand their knowledge and resources. Tools like search engines and social media are transforming elderly lives and giving them access to information and communities that were previously hard for them to reach. In just a few years, senior citizens across the world have increased their ability to learn and make better decisions for their lives. As the internet continues to evolve, this usage is likely to increase.
Social Media Connects Seniors With Lost Family Members
The internet has made it easier for older people to find friends, family members, and even significant others that they lost track of in decades past. More than 67 percent of adults 65 or older access the internet in some form. This provides countless opportunities to connect with lost friends and rekindle these distant relationships.
In fact, the local news in Washington, D.C., recently profiled a 79-year old woman who used social media to connect with long-lost family members and old friends. What started as a simple Google search of her last name has resulted in Livia Weinstein creating a Facebook group for her family (and extended relatives) that now includes more than 150 people, hosts family reunions in Texas, and even plans group outings to learn more about the family’s heritage.
Not only was did technology help Weinstein connect with people she had previously lost contact with, but it created a whole community of support for the next generation. Her legacy will live on because of her curiosity and research skills.
Seniors Can Research Health Issues and Form Support Groups
While the internet certainly has social benefits for seniors, it also has proven benefits for the health of older adults. The internet has countless social media pages to identify health problems and blogs for treating health issues. Seniors can better treat their health problems and learn when they need to go see a doctor.
For example, older adults who suffer from heart disease could look up a list of healthy foods they can eat to protect their internal systems. If they have a question, these adults can turn to the web for answers and possible alternatives. Some health bloggers specialize in cooking low-salt and low-sugar meals, which can help seniors stay on their diets with exciting meals that are still healthy. All this takes is a few likes on Facebook.
Another use for social media that seniors are embracing is community support groups. Suffering from chronic conditions can be emotionally and physically taxing. These communities on social media support each other when their members are seeking treatment and even schedule help to care for them. Imagine having 200 people just a few clicks away who are willing to help you through a hard time. That’s the power of social media for seniors.
Elderly Americans Can Learn About Scams and Identity Theft Risks
Many scammers target seniors because they’re perceived as less tech-savvy and aware of the modern world. Some scammers pretend to be the IRS demanding payments over the phone, while others pretend to be grandkids asking for money. These scams come with a variety of goals, from stealing social security numbers to just getting a few hundred dollars. In fact, these scams are so varied that the National Council on Aging recently published 10 common financial scams the specifically target seniors in order to help people better identify fraud calls and emails.
Fortunately, the internet and social media also help seniors protect themselves from scam calls. There are resources to learn how to identify fraud, while social media news channels share updates whenever a common scam call is making its rounds. Other websites, like the popular look-up tool CheckThem.com, allow seniors to run a background check on themselves to rest assured there are no issues with identity theft or cases of social security fraud. If there is a call from an unknown number, they can perform a reverse phone number lookup to see who called. Without the web, general awareness of scammers would be lower, and monitoring sites wouldn’t be able to identify fraud and stop it earlier.
Seniors Get the Goods They Need Without Leaving the House
As seniors get older and become less mobile, they rely on others to help them run their errands. This might include going grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions at the local pharmacy. With social media and the web, seniors are better able to access these essentials even if they can’t drive.
Apps like Uber and Lyft make it easy for older Americans to travel when they need to visit the doctor or family. Some seniors even use these tools for daily chores or to visit friends. However, more start-ups have been created to bring items to older Americans. For example, Shipt and Instacart are grocery delivery services that bring food and other needs to homes. Seniors can even order UberEats if they can’t go out.
Social media makes it possible for seniors to keep living independently. Even online shopping makes ordering clothes and other home items a breeze, especially when they arrive within a few days right at their doorsteps.
Older Americans Can Affordably Keep Up With Media
Many senior citizens live on limited budgets. Between their pensions and social security checks, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for added expenses. Some seniors have canceled their cable subscriptions in order to save money. Instead of scrolling through the channels, seniors opt to watch Netflix or Hulu instead, which are more affordable. Instead of paying $50-100, they can pay $10-20.
These streaming services also have social media elements to them. As seniors catch up on their favorite shows, they can tweet with others who are watching and talk about plot twists and upcoming episodes. Suddenly watching TV isn’t a lonely affair but rather a fun social opportunity to meet new people who have common interests.
Senior citizens who are looking to increase their social media usage can check their local libraries or universities, which often offer free or affordable classes to learn how to navigate the web. With just a few classes, elderly Americans can get started using the web and tap into the vast amounts of information available online.