Social Media Connections to Aging with Dignity and Independence

Posted on March 31, 2011 by Suzanne Gregory

By Suzanne Gregory, SCOPE

Social media is all the hype these days and Facebook is certainly at the forefront. I have a 17-year-old daughter, and if I want to know what is on her mind, I check out her Facebook page. Very occasionally I even post a comment. Let me be clear, she friended me. With that said, she really doesn’t want me posting much on her wall.

My parents are another story. They like talking on the phone and the occasional emails are usually short and to the point. In that context, it was with interest that I read: "Redefining Assisted Living Through Social Media". It discussed use of a Facebook-style application to connect residents of an assisted living facility to each other and to their families. Just like my 17 year old, they can post photos, share calendars and information and interests, making it easier to connect with other residents who may have similar interests.

Social networking strategies are not just for residents in assisted living facilities. A recent Canadian study shows that caregivers exhibited reduced stress levels with internet-based intervention programs such as a web-based chat or video-based group therapy. In North Hempstead, NY, home-bound seniors participate in a virtual exercise program offered through the use of webcams and Skype by the local township.

We are reviewing the themes from our community research for the Aging with Dignity and Independence initiative, and several of the themes dovetail with the technological solutions offered in these articles. Community participants identified themes such as the power of relationships, connecting and socializing with others, listening to one another, giving and providing emotional support and engaging in activities.

These themes reflect some of the conditions that are apparent when one’s dignity and independence are enhanced and supported. Our Advisory Group is helping to envision some of the possibilities for our community, how we might do more of what works and think about where we might improve. These technological strategies are another piece of the solution.

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