The Benefits of Encouraging Your Loved Ones to Get Online
Traditionally, older people have been slow to adopt new technology, most notably internet use, and although this is starting to change, there are still a significant number of elderly people – more than 2 million over-75s are not online – who have yet to adopt internet usage.
This is such a shame, especially in the age of coronavirus, because so many services are being moved online, and if you aren’t able to connect, accessing them is much more difficult than it needs to be. Not only that but socialising online is a great way to fight back against loneliness, which is prevalent in older people, to some extent too.
If you have an older loved one who is not yet online, and you aren’t sure whether it’s worth convincing them to give it a try, here are some very real benefits of doing so.
Convenience in daily life
There is no denying that the internet has made many aspects of life, from paying bills to getting advice from the doctor, much more convenient than it often is offline. This is even more true for older people who may be infirm or unable to get around as they once did.
Once they are up and running online, they will be able to pay bills without having to go to the bank in the rain, ask their doctor about a troubling symptom without having to sit in a busy surgery or spend hours on the phone, and speak to friends and family all over the place without having to travel long and tiring distances. Basically, it will just make life a whole lot easier.
As mentioned above, when you’re connected to the internet, you are connected to all of your friends and family, and your local community too. Social media often gets a bad rap, but when it comes to bringing older people together with those people who for whatever reason, they can’t connect with in-person very often, it is invaluable. It can help them to feel a part of the modern world and the community around them, instead of feeling lonely and isolated, which is something many older people, unfortunately, succumb to. As long as they know some basic online safety tips and how to spot a scam, they should be just fine using social media to meet some of their interpersonal needs. Of course, there is nothing like face-to-face interactions to brighten one’s fay, so make sure you don’t replace all of their social contact with online interactions!
Slow cognitive decline
Some people might be inclined to think the jokes of Facebook and Twitter are more likely to lead to a fast decline in cognitive abilities, but being serious, various studies have shown that playing games, watching videos and interacting online can all help to slow cognitive decline in older people. Obviously, we will all lose some cognitive function as we age, but if we keep our brains active, this may not be as severe as it could, and there is no denying that there is a lot online that can keep you busy, provoke deeper thinking and just simply keep you in the loop of life. That’s why the internet can be so invaluable for older people.
Lower risk of mental illness
Obviously, using the internet isn’t going to lower your chances of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or other severe mental health issues, but there is some evidence it can help to keep depression at bay in older individuals. This is most likely to be the case when an adult who would otherwise be quite socially isolated uses the internet to connect with friends, family, hobby groups and the local community. By ensuring that they spend more time talking to people on voice calls or social media and message boards, older people can feel more like they are a part of things, while also keeping their minds active, which is really good at keeping depression at bay.
Again, that doesn’t mean they can or should do all of their socialising online because face-to-face is even better for mental health, but it will help, and it’s a really good reason to convince your loved ones to learn how to get online right now.
Great for physical health too
You might not associate internet usage with good physical health, and if you spend too much time online, it can for sure cause more problems than it solves. But it is also the case that you can find lots of good information about your health online, and access various medical services, often including your GP. online too. Being able to use the internet really can help older people to better manage their physical health symptoms and find the information they may need faster and more efficiently. Of course, you may need to teach them about how to find reliable sources – pointing them to the NHS website is always a good idea – but once they have the swing of things, it could be a great resource for them.
Older people like to have fun as much as the next person, and there’s no denying that the internet can bring a lot of fun and joy into our lives. From watching cute cat videos to shopping for bargains, there are so many things you can do online that provide great entertainment and a respite from the challenges of the real world, and older people should benefit from them as much as the next person.
As you can see, there are so many benefits to using the internet as an older person that you should really try to convince that late adopter in your life to finally embrace technology. If they aren’t convinced, show them what they are missing and offer to help them learn the basics so they can feel more confident to take the plunge because it is often a confidence issue that is holding them back. Once they see how easy it is, and how much fun they can have, there will be no stopping them!