Elderly less forgotten when using social media

April 16, 2013 at 6:37 PM
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WALFERDANGE, Luxembourg, April 16 (UPI) -- Being able to connect using social media, older frail people who are often forgotten are able to have some emotional contact, researchers in Luxembourg say.

Dr. Anja Leist from the University of Luxembourg said with the rise of user-friendly devices such as tablets and other Web-enabled devices, older adults now engage more with online social networks, discussion boards and online forums.

With successful use of a computer or Web-enabled device, older adults report enhanced feelings of control and self-efficacy, Leist said.

"For me, it was interesting to learn that there is evidence for a large potential of social media in clinical practice. Older adults can use social media to access health-related information and engage in patient-to-patient or patient-doctor conversations," Leist said in a statement.

"There are many online forums where people in difficult life situations, such as informal caregivers of a spouse with dementia or individuals with depression, can exchange thoughts as well as receive and provide social support. Other positive consequences are that lonely older adults can overcome loneliness through contact to family and friends and other users with similar interests."

However, the negative consequences of social media use for older adults have yet to be investigated such as access to harmful information and misuse of personal data.

The findings were published in the journal Gerontology.

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