We know that Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family members and friends, but did you know using Facebook may actually have health benefits for those older than 65? A recent study shows that seniors who spend time on the social media site undergo an improvement in their cognitive abilities.
University of Arizona graduate student Janelle Wohltmann created a study of participants ages 68 to 91 and gave them baseline tests to capture their mental abilities and how they were socially. Then the seniors were separated into three groups for the study:
- Group One was trained on how to use Facebook, asked to become friends with others and told to post messages on their account at least once a day.
- Group Two was trained to use Penzu — an online diary that has no social sharing aspects to entries — and asked to post messages daily.
- Group Three was put on a “wait list” for training for Facebook — but they never actually took the training.
After approximately two months, all the participants were once again tested. Of all the groups, Group One, where participants learned how to use Facebook, saw a 25% increase in their scores from before they had their training. The other two groups? They saw no real change in performance.
It turns out that the more seniors actively participated in being social, even online, the more they “exercised” cognitive skills and kept them fresh. This is also important because studies have shown that those who are more socially connected also fare better emotionally because they are more engaged and have a support system in place.
SENIORS USE FACEBOOK AND MORE
At American House, we encourage using technology to stay connected to friends and family — so it’s a bonus that using Facebook brings about a likelihood of increasing cognitive abilities simultaneously! However, we also stress the importance of being secure online and protecting privacy.
Besides Facebook, our residents have recently started using another bit of technology to stay connected to loved ones near and far: Skype. Our residents began learning how to chat via video and they’ve had a great time with it!