Technology can be intimidating and frustrating, but it can also change a person's life for the better. The following research studies show how modern day technologies can positively impact older adults' emotional well-being.
Stanford’s Rewiring Aging Study
Those not using technology are lonelier and have worse health
In 2015, Stanford University conducted a study of 80 seniors that showed 27% are “virtual shut-ins”: they are not using any technological devices, apps or programs. These seniors reported lower overall life satisfaction, poorer physical health and greater loneliness than the survey group as a whole.
According to Dr. Kevin O’Neil, a board certified internist and geriatrician, “Human connection is crucial for people at all ages, but especially so for seniors. Loneliness in this age group is associated with shorter life spans, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, depression and even dementia.”
Pew Research Center
For seniors, a smartphone equals ‘freedom’
While smartphone ownership is less common amongst seniors ages 65 and older, they are more likely to feel empowered by owning one.
In a 2014 study by Pew Research, when asked if they feel that their phone represents “freedom” or “a leash,” 82% of smartphone-owning seniors described their phone as freeing. By contrast, 36% of adult smartphone owners under the age of 30 described their phone as a leash, double the 18% of adults ages 65 and older who chose this term to describe their phone.
Ages 2.0 Study
Social media results in improved cognition & self-competence
This two year study compared a group of 120 elderly people in the UK and Italy that were trained on email, Skype, Facebook and other social media tools to a control group receiving normal care. Researchers found the group using social technologies not only reported feeling less isolated, but also performed better in tests to gauge cognitive capacity and personal identity.
Although the participants in the study were trained on computers, using Skype on an iPad or exploring Facebook on a smartphone makes connecting easier than ever. One participant noted the importance of mobile devices claiming, “My belief is that we need to get away from the concept of ‘computers’ – instead using tablets that are intuitive and easy to use – and focusing on apps like Skype that demonstrate immediately to people that being online really can enhance the quality of your life.”