Older Adults Catching Up to Social Media World

by Lois Etienne on October 6, 2010

in Internet

Q. My 58-year-old sister is the primary family caregiver for our parents. I have been trying to get her interested in social media as a way to stay in touch with the family and get support for herself. She says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Is she right? She desperately needs help and support.

Washington Senior-Couple-At-Computer

No, she is not correct and here are the statistics to prove it. Social networking use among Internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled — from 22 percent to 42 percent over the past year, according to the PEW Internet & American Life Project.

Although email continues to be the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, many users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications – sharing links, photos, videos, news and status updates with a growing network of contacts.

About half (47 percent) of Internet users ages 50-64 and one in four (26 percent) of users ages 65 and older now use social networking sites. That’s up from just 25 percent of online adults ages 50-64 and 13 percent of those ages 65 and older who reported social networking use one year ago in a survey conducted in April 2009.

The use of Twitter and other services to share status updates has also grown among older users — most notably among those ages 50-64. While just 5 percent of users ages 50-64 had used Twitter or another status-update service in 2009, 11percent now say they use these tools.

By comparison, social networking sites have gained a much larger foothold in the lives of older Americans over time. One-in-five (20 percent) online adults ages 50-64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10 percent one year ago. Likewise, 13 percent of online adults ages 65 and older log on to social networking sites, compared with just 4 percent who did so in 2009.

Why not enlist the help of a younger family member to show your sister the ropes? Also, consider recommending to your sister a professional caregiving service, which can provide her with a break from the rigors of caregiving. Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured.

For more information or to get answers to your questions, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.  We can be reached — anytime day or night – by calling Spokane509.835.5898, North King/Snohomish Counties425.670.2292 or South King/Pierce Counties253.943.1603. You can also email us at loisetienne@homeinsteadnw.com

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