Older adults are getting into social media at a rapidly growing rate. That’s a good thing, but it could be much more fulfilling and great for your well-being! In short, being socially connected enhances your physical and mental health and promotes longevity.
Just like younger generations, most older adults are mainly passive participants – they view other people boards and blogs and occasionally post a picture and note. Few make comments or share posts. Sadly, they are missing out in the social dialogue and opportunity to promote healthy aging.
Social Connections are Important to Healthy Aging
The older we get, the more likely we will experience loneliness and depression. You might not feel that way today, but make sure you are taking steps to keep it from happening in the future. Loneliness, a sense of alienation and declining social engagement, is strongly associated with declines in both physical and mental health. Mental health is more than dementia and mental illness. Mental health well-being means the person has the capacity to adapt to changes in society and to play an active role in that society. Failure to adapt increases the likelihood a person will feel alienated and be viewed as living-in-the-past. It is also a strong signal that a person might be losing their independence. It is important that a person doesn’t think, “that’s not me.” Loneliness is a slow creeping thing and the same can go for losing independence.
Sure, a person can have a rich in-person social life. If that’s you, fantastic and keep it up. However, the evidence clearly shows that the number of friends we have tends to decline as we get older. It pays to be proactive, not just with your age-peers but with other generations.
On the Nature of Your Social Circle
If they are mostly people you’ve known forever, and they seem very predictable – it is time to branch out.
Of course, there is chance that you are becoming one of those “predictable” people who is living in the past. The idea is to seek out people who are actively engaged in life – today! Engaging means these people are actively learning how to adapt and enjoy the world as it is today. First, you will find them interesting, second, they are most often eager to share their insights and experience with people who have an open-mind. They don’t just have to be age-peers. Reach that nephew, niece or grandchildren and try to see the world through their eyes.
Reaching out in-person can be daunting – so let’s get back to why social media channels like Facebook and Pinterest are so great. They are low risk ways to connect with a broad range of people.
Tips for a Richer Social Media Experience
Here are some everyday ways to become engaged for enjoyment and health.
If you have a Facebook account, for example, you probably already know how nice it is to learn what others are doing and to see the pictures. If you don’t have a Facebook account – read on.
Invest some time to connect with old friends. Remember the people who mattered at different stages of your life – reach out to them and invite them to connect with you on Facebook.
If you don’t have a Facebook Page – get one!. If they don’t have one – encourage them to get one. There are a lot of great resources on how to get started. Check out this 10 minute YouTube video or this 5 minute video, it takes you step-by-step in getting started.
Don’t be passive! Share what’s up with you and make sure to add photos. You have a camera on your phone so capture the what, where and joy in your live.
Comment! A “like” is nice but a real comment is golden, even if it is short. Cheer people on and get top of their minds at least for a moment. Commenting makes you more visible and like minded people are more likely to want to connect with you – new followers, new friends with similar interests.