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Senior Social Isolation | Using Technology To Prevent It!

Aug 8, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of Montclair and Hasbrouck Heights

New data shows that, despite the assumption that it’s okay for seniors to avoid technology, staying connected can truly impact a senior’s quality of life.

But can purchasing a tablet or cellphone, or simply making a social media account really make that large of a difference? It turns out that strengthening social circles via technology is an easy way for seniors to prevent social isolation, if they live alone or far away from loved ones.

What is social isolation, and why is it dangerous for seniors?

As the name implies, this form of isolation occurs when someone begins to cancel their usual social plans, avoiding social activities in general and isolating themselves from others.

This can occur for a variety of reasons. Perhaps mobility or health issues makes an older person embarrassed to go out with their friends or relatives, or it’s simply too much work to the leave the house. Maybe they’ve experienced the loss of a spouse and are wanting to grieve alone.

Whatever the cause of it, it can be incredibly dangerous for older adults. Research shows that social isolation can actually expedite death, making an older person die sooner than they would have otherwise. It’s also been shown to be deadlier than obesity, or than smoking almost a whole pack of cigarettes a day!

Why do many seniors shy away from technology?

With how quickly technology is advancing, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends, updates and new gadgets – even for younger folks.

Some seniors never even fully dive into getting familiar with technology for the sake of feeling helpless or even embarrassed by their lack of knowledge on it.

It’s important to know that you do not need to be an expert to begin learning about technology that may help you. Your quality of life can greatly increase by staying connected with others – and it’s an easy way to prevent social isolation, too.

What are the most useful ways for seniors to stay connected?

First, look into what kind of device would benefit you most. A cellphone is portable and fairly easy to use, but is sometimes too small for seniors. A tablet is a nice medium size between a phone and computer, but oftentimes requires a connection to Wifi. A computer allows you to do much more than a phone can, but it’s not as portable. Some people have all three, but starting off with one device can help ease you into things.

Next, look at social media. The number one social networking site in the world, especially amongst the senior population, is Facebook.

This social media platform allows you to:

  • See what your friends and family are up to by posts and pictures they share.
  • Follow your favorite recipe pages, celebrities, news channels, you name it.
  • Share with your friends list your own photos and posts.
  • Message and video chat with your loved ones.

Video chat is an especially important way for seniors to stay in touch with their loved ones from afar. You can do this on Facebook when logged in on either on a tablet, computer or cellphone, or your cellphone provider may have this feature that can be used without the Facebook application. Video chatting is the next best thing to being face-to-face with someone you miss.

If you prefer to write instead, you can also send texts with your cellphone, send emails on a cellphone, computer or tablet, or message on several popular social media platforms (Facebook again is great for this, but you can also message on Instagram, Snapchat, and so forth).

How can Comfort Keepers help me or my senior?

One of the most important services Comfort Keepers provides for seniors is companionship. This in itself can help prevent social isolation, even if it’s just a few visits a week.

Our caregivers can also assist you with setting up some of your devices, and if not, connect you with resources that can. Even a quick tutorial on how to use Facebook or navigating through the apps on your cellphone can make you feel better about using tech to keep in touch with your loved one, among other advantages to these devices.

Depending on the availability, Comfort Keepers may also be able to keep you connected through the grandPad. This tablet is easy to use and less expensive than most cellphone plans, all the while letting you video chat with loved ones, play games, check your local weather, and more! Please note these are extremely popular items so their may be a few days to wait before we can set you and your senior up with this fantastic communication device.

Contact Comfort Keepers of Montclair to see if this device (or others) is available and ask how else our senior companion care can help prevent isolation and increase your senior’s quality of life.

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