I’ve been moping around the last few years blithering about being the only member left of my family of origin and about not having any children of my own. In addition, my spouse of 24 years passed away a couple years ago, which obviously left me feeling alone and lonely. With these circumstances, I can paint a fairly desolate picture of this life as a senior citizen if I want. Most of my friends, however, just aren’t buying it. They know I’m, if anything, more plugged into a large circle of interested and interesting friends who love and support me in real time and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
The Electronic Age
Most seniors have seen an entire electronic revolution erupt during their lives. We didn’t have things such as garage door openers, phone extensions within the home or remote TV controls when I was in my single digits let alone not having high speed information available via computers.
More seniors are tackling classes at junior colleges, senior centers or private one-on-one instruction in order to learn what is necessary to get and stay connected. Social media connections are helping to alleviate isolation, loneliness and depression brought on by having family and friends move away and become less accessible, and as individual mobility and independence start to decline.
Social networking via the computer has created a new ‘community’ for elders, especially those who physically are unable to leave their homes. Increasing numbers of older people are going online, with the latest statistics from the Pew Research Centre, a U.S. think-tank, showing that one-third of people over 65 use social networking sites, compared with six percent three years ago.
Most seniors, once trained, glom onto social media and the internet in general, however, a significant segment of the older population expresses stress and anxiety about using it. Some seniors find it difficult to grasp the mechanics of navigating the computer itself as well as the intangible world wide web. In addition, having so much information available points out to some just how much they don’t know. That can be depressing!
While you know how I feel – how my every day and my life in general is greatly enhanced by social media and the internet, I wonder about others. Somehow I think it would be worthwhile doing intense small group or one-on-one trainings for those elders who are receptive to learning about a whole new way to acquire and maintain friendships. If you’re reading this, you’re already there, but I bet you know others who might benefit from this connection. If you do, how can you help them widen their world?