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Online connectivity connected to seniors’ well-being

October 29, 2015
by Nicole Stempak, Associate Editor
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Older adults who use technology to keep in touch with friends and family reported better mental and physical health, according to a survey.

Adults over 80 years old who use social technology, defined as technology that connects with friends or family members (e.g., playing video games with friends, text messaging and social media) reported better life satisfaction, lower levels of loneliness, greater attainment of goals, better subjective health and fewer limitations with everyday activities.

Findings suggest technology could play an important role in enhancing seniors’ overall well-being. The Rewiring Aging survey of 445 adults with normal cognitive functioning focused on the way technology is being used by people age 80 and older. It was conducted by Kelton Global in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity and supported by Brookdale Senior Living.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe technology can improve communication with family and friends. However, only one-third use a personal computer at least once a month and less than 20 percent text. About 25 percent of participants don’t use any form of technology.

“Human connection is crucial for people at all ages, but especially so for seniors,” said Brookdale Chief Medical Officer Kevin O’Neil, MD, in a press release. “Loneliness in this age group is associated with shorter life spans, chronic conditions such as high blood presser, depression and even dementia. Helping those in their 80s and above connect through technology is an opportunity to enhance their wellbeing even further.”

A third of respondents would like to be able to text or video chat with family and friends; more than 25 percent are interested in taking group classes to learn how. But that doesn’t mean they think it’ll be easy. Nearly half of respondents said it takes too long to understand and is difficult to keep pace with new technology.

Read the preliminary results from the Rewiring Aging survey here.

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