Seniors are using technology more than ever. From monitoring health, managing medication schedules, and more, one of the greatest contributions of technology is how it enables us to stay in touch with family and friends when we are unable or unwilling to leave our homes. These simple ways to stay connected can combat depression and isolation, bringing a better quality of life, increased health, and overall wellness.
Using Technology to Fight Senior Isolation
Seniors are more connected than ever. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that highly educated and more affluent seniors are using technology at the same rate as younger adults. 85% of seniors 65 and older owned a cell phone with 46% of those owning a smartphone.
The willingness of seniors to interact with technology can help lower rates of isolation and depression, which can have devastating consequences for senior health. More than 40% of seniors regularly experience loneliness.
Studies have found that:
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- Loneliness may increase the likelihood of mortality by 26%
- Lacking social connections can be as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
- Seniors who are lonely are more likely to develop dementia
- Seniors who report being lonely report 5% more severe symptoms in the common cold than those who report not being lonely.
As seniors continue to embrace digital life, they are able to stay connected with family and friends across geographical distances and other barriers to physical interaction.
Top Apps for Cultivating Virtual Connections
There is no replacement for personal touch, physical interaction, and quality time with loved ones. Sometimes, that physical interaction is not possible. From bad weather to flu season there may be times that we need to substitute personal contact with virtual contact. These apps can help seniors stay connected through those times.
One of the most popular apps for video chatting is Skype. It’s a free app that can be downloaded to a mobile device or a laptop or desktop. Log in to create a user name and call other Skype users. You can use video or audio and receive a local number in another country or region. The app features HD video, live subtitles, and call recording so that you can relive those special moments caught on video.
FaceTime is specifically for iPhone users and can only be used to call other iPhone users. FaceTime is a free app for video calls, similar to Skype. You can also have a group call on FaceTime and leave a message if the caller is unavailable. FaceTime is available on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, and Apple computers.
One of the newest apps to encourage social interaction, Marco Polo is similar to texting, but with a video. Users have to sign up with a Marco Polo account and then they can record a video and send it. The person on the receiving end can watch it and respond at their convenience. You can create groups on Marco Polo so you can all chat together. The biggest difference with Marco Polo is that you do not have to watch the video in real-time so you can watch the video and respond later.
Facebook Messenger is available to both Facebook users and non-users. On Facebook Messenger, you can chat, send a video, or make an audio or video call. This is more like sending a text but with additional chatting capabilities. To contact a person on Facebook Messenger, the person on the receiving end must also have an account.
WhatsApp Messenger, also known just as WhatsApp, is another messaging service that allows users to send text and voice messages, make audio and video calls, share images, and more. Available on both the iPhone and Android smartphones, WhatsApp also allows group messaging and document sharing. Users may also send audio messages that the recipient can listen to at their convenience.
What apps do you use to stay connected with loved ones? Share them with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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