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Staying connected

Posted March 05, 2014 in Advice Column, Urbandale

Social isolation is a real concern for seniors. As seniors age in place, it is important to understand the hazards of becoming socially isolated and inactive. Social isolation occurs when there is a lack of communication with others. This results in the senior feeling lonely. Studies have shown that loneliness in the elderly raises the potential for certain health risks, including depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Staying socially connected has a positive impact on the health, well-being and quality of life in our senior population. In today’s society, families are being spread across the country and even across the world. Actual family visits to interact and reconnect are infrequent at best.

The use of today’s technology may be used as a bridge to stay connected no matter where your family or friends may be. Technology isn’t just for young people; it’s also changing the way senior citizens age. People of all ages are using the Internet, cell phones and other technologies to stay connected with family and friends. In a matter of a few “clicks” on a device the senior can send a message to his or her son, receive a photo from a granddaughter or email an invitation to the annual family summer picnic.  While younger people are typically the “experts” on these new resources, many older adults also utilize the Internet, social medial and cell phones to communicate.  Who said “old dogs can’t learn new tricks?” The Pew Research Center estimated that 56 percent of the 65 and older population is currently online.

Using other tools like various social media sites, Skype and FaceTime can help your aging loved ones stay connected to the people they love the most.  Seniors are turning to social networks for companionship and support. Social networking provides opportunities for seniors to meet new people, stay in touch with family and friends and reconnect with old friends. The use of these tools not only are bridging the generational gap with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but allows them to communicate with other social groups at a stage in their life when it is often difficult to do so. It serves as a means to reach out and be connected without feeling awkward or intimidated.

Technology creates multiple opportunities for learning, growth, education, activity and, most of all, a means for staying connected to your loved ones.

Information provided by Susan Ray, executive director, The Reserve on Walnut Creek, 2727 82nd Place, Urbandale, 515-727-5927,

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