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How Technology Can Help Eliminate Loneliness & Promote Socialization for Older Adults

Technology is pretty amazing. It can help simplify our days, help us accomplish more with less and even help us connect to one another. For seniors, technology can also help get them in touch with others, encourage socialization and help eliminate loneliness. 

Let’s discuss what we mean by technology. It encompasses a lot of different things, from gadgets like remote car starters to apps on your smartphone to the Internet itself. Technology is ever present, and it’s only becoming more so as more and more technological strides are made and the digital and real-world mesh even further. 

“There are so many benefits that technology can bring to older adults, and while many seniors are plugged in and using technology on a daily basis, the oldest group of seniors have not embraced technology as much as they could,” says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley. For this group, she says, technology can seem scary because they don’t understand it, or they’ve had a negative experience with it (such as being scammed).  

Kristine says that, even if a senior doesn’t feel confident about using technology, friends and family should try to find ways to ease them into the technological waters – because the benefits far outweigh the risks. 

“It’s not uncommon for family members to live far away from their senior loved ones, which makes staying connected difficult on a regular basis,” she says. “It gets harder for a senior to get out and about, and friends may be too far away to visit in person. This can lead to social isolation, loneliness and eventually depression, which can result in a slew of health-related issues that could turn into emergencies if not addressed.

“Instead, helping your senior discover positive experiences online can improve their mood, make them feel more connected to others and give them purpose. It can link them with new hobbies, interesting games, entertainment and so much more. The trick is to find an avenue that’s non-threatening and simple enough to use that he or she won’t get frustrated and give up.”

Here are just some of the ways that technology can help connect seniors to entertainment, friends and family and the world at large.

1. It connects them to others in real time. 

Did you know that chronic loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? That’s bad news, especially considering that at least 43 percent of older adults experience chronic loneliness on some level. Loneliness doesn’t just make us sad, but it also increases our risk of diseases such as dementia, cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes and many other ailments. Humans are just meant to connect to one another, and that need doesn’t lessen as we get older. 

Thanks to smartphones, tablets and personal computers, it’s never been easier to get in touch with loved ones and friends. Apps like Facebook and Instagram allow seniors to see what’s going on in the lives of friends and family in real-time, and tools like Skype or Facetime can put you face-to-face with someone in no time flat. Even if you don’t go out of your house to meet friends, you can still schedule a Skype coffee date (supply your own coffee) and feel engaged and connected to others. 

2. It provides entertainment options that never existed before. 

What do you want to learn, see or do? Pretty much anything is possible these days thanks to technology. Not only can you use it to watch movies and TV shows, but you can go back to school, engage in online discussions about a favorite topic or even speak to a therapist, all with the press of a button. Games like Words with Friends allow you to virtually “play” games with other friends and family who have the app. You can even join a virtual classroom to learn any sort of topic (check your local university or college to see what’s being offered) and engage with others in the class as well as your teacher. If you want to go a little more analog, you can use technology to see the entertainment options that are available to you in real life. Meetup.com is an online site where you can find groups of people with similar interests as you, from knitting clubs to hiking clubs to let’s-have-coffee-and-just-chat clubs (and more). 

3. It helps seniors stay active and healthy. 

Staying healthy means it’s easier for seniors to get out and connect with others, which makes them happier, and is a positive cycle all around. There are all sorts of ways technology can help with this. On the “physical activity” side of things, technology can help make exercise safer and easier to monitor (think of a Fitbit that encourages you to get your daily recommended dose of steps and exercise). You can also stay healthier with medical information and tools right at your fingertips (like apps that allow you to monitor your blood pressure, glucose levels and other important things). You can keep your brain sharp and active by playing memory games or learning about new things. Technology makes it easier to gain access to all these things, which is a great boon for seniors who may have mobility or health issues that make it hard to get out. 

“At Waterstone at Wellesley, we understand the important role that technology can play in helping seniors live active, happy and socially engaged lives,” says Kristine. “At our community, we don’t just have the latest technological advances to help our residents stay safe and healthy, but we also provide a media room and cyber center where seniors can connect, learn and engage. Plus, we always have staff available to help if anyone runs into any issues.”

For more information about the benefits of technology for seniors, please contact us at 781.235.1614.

Beautiful Riverfront Community

Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities. 

Celebrating Dynamic Living

Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.

Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors. 

Confidence of Care

The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone. 

For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.235.1614.