3 Ways Social Media Can Help Seniors with Depression
During a time in which social distancing is the norm, it’s more important than ever to find alternative ways to stay in touch with loved ones. Isolation can often lead to feelings of loneliness and even depression — especially for seniors who live alone. Thankfully, social media can be a great tool to counteract some of these feelings, as it enables communication and updates between friends and family, all while keeping a safe distance.
In fact, studies have shown that seniors who are on social media are statistically less likely to deal with some of these negative consequences. Here are a few ways that seniors with depression can use their digital presence to address some of these feelings.
1. Staying connected
Social media offers numerous ways for friends, family, and even old acquaintances to keep in touch over time. This is a great and simple way to connect, create a sense of community, and feel less alone. On Facebook, finding these people to connect with is quick and easy. Users can simply type the name they are looking for in the search bar. If someone has a common name and is more difficult to find, additional information can be added — like their location or job — to narrow the search. Sending and accepting friend requests is an entirely personal decision and helps build a network that can make each user feel most supported.
Once a supportive network is established, posting updates and viewing others’ updates is a great way to truly feel connected. Utilizing a social platform’s features in this way allows a network to turn into a support system. Whether the updates a user is sharing are good news or more difficult news, comments, likes, and sharing can easily make a person who is isolated feel like they are still emotionally connected to others who are far away from them. Feeling connected and supported, even just virtually, can often help mitigate the lonely feelings that come along with depression.
Platforms like Facebook or the photo-sharing app, Instagram, also include simple messaging features and video call options to take these connections to the next level. If there is a conversation topic that two or more users want to pursue outside of their public feed, a one-on-one or group chat will allow these people to connect and support one another in private. Video calls are a nice way to feel even closer to others as they show everyone’s faces and makes it feel as if they were in the room visiting each other. Regular conversations via these features can provide users with depression the feeling of being understood and cared about.
2. Expanding one’s network
Offering such a vast and wide digital space, there is so much more to discover on these social platforms aside from following friends and family that a user already knows. In fact, it’s quite simple to make new friends online and keep up-to-date with them in the same way as mentioned above. Facebook Groups and specific Instagram hashtags can open a world of possibilities as they bring together people from all around the world who all enjoy the same specific topic. Expanding one’s network in this way can bring an even more comforting sense of connection, as these new friends can share hobbies and interests that the user is passionate about.
There are lots of specific Groups on Facebook that seniors can enjoy and use to connect with others in their age group. Aside from fun, hobby-based Groups, these forums can be used in serious situations as well and provide an even stronger support system for seniors who may be grieving or dealing with other matters of a similar nature. Utilizing these groups instead of a user’s normal network of friends can be beneficial because the other users in the Group are often dealing with the same issue and are looking for others to connect with as well. This can bring with it a new comforting sense of community for those who are struggling with depression.
One of the best parts about social media is that it’s so dynamic. While many of these platforms are great mainly for interaction, they can also be used as forms of entertainment. Platforms like YouTube and Instagram allow users to sit back and watch videos on any topics that they choose. If a user finds something entertaining, they can share it to their feed and discuss it with their friends using the features mentioned above. This is just another great way to keep in touch and feel connected to one’s network and interests.
Additionally, discussion platforms like Reddit allow users to follow and interact with others who are posting about their chosen interest. Similar to Groups, this is a great way to meet new people who share similar passions, hobbies, or even struggles. There are countless subreddits that seniors may enjoy, and may even want to create their own posts within. Finding new relationships and interests with others around the world can ultimately bring that sense of connection that someone who is isolated and dealing with depression may be longing for.
As seniors grow older, it can become more difficult to go out and keep in touch with loved ones in person. Social media is a world of its own that provides entertainment and mental stimulation right at one’s fingertips. And while social media certainly is not a cure for depression, using it to its fullest extent is a great way to feel connected to a strong support system.
To learn about how Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care supports patients in all aspects of their lives, give us a call at 1-888-564-3405.
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