Seniors Online Show Less Depression

While some are crying out against the dangers too much Internet use can cause an individual, others are touting its value in terms of social connection. For seniors especially, Internet use could be good for their health.

According to a McKnights article, seniors using the Internet could reduce rates of depression and cut healthcare costs at the same time. This prediction is part of a new report from The Phoenix Center.

Seniors face significant challenges in maintaining relationships with friends and family, especially if they have mobility difficulties. Such obstacles can lead to depression and can complicate current health conditions.

To combat this growing trend, researchers discovered that spending time online could lower depression. For those seniors who participated in a recent University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study, 20 percent experienced lowered depression when they spent time online.

The Internet provides seniors the ability and the opportunity to “connect with sources of social support when face-to-face interaction becomes more difficult,” said study co-author Dr. Sherry G. Ford at the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

Background on this research suggests that depression cost billions of dollars each year in medical costs and work productivity costs. Only 42 percent of seniors now report using the Internet. If more were to do so and spend time online, there could be better mental and economical outcomes.

To facilitate such a change would require more than just a simple suggestion as this would be a complete culture change for many seniors who are not used to communicating or maintaining relationships by electronic means. If the suggested outcomes are possible, however, the facilitation of such changes would be worth consideration.

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