Social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are great ways to stay in touch with friends, family and extended networks.
This could be one reason that Australian Unity’s 2015 What Makes us Happy? report suggests that moderate use of social media – about 30 minutes a day – can improve wellbeing.
New research shows that about 70 per cent of older Australians use the internet multiple times a day, and almost half of those over 65 are on social media.
Keeping in touch
Having an understanding of Facebook and other social media channels is becoming crucial for staying connected to social circles and there is no need for fear.
“Some of my clients are very active in their community so this is another tool for them to get in contact with people around them,” says Graciela Portugal, Wellbeing Lounge Manager at Australian Unity, who teaches seniors how to use and understand social media. “Within the security of our retirement community setting, they establish connections in their own circles.
“For the ones who have family and friends overseas or interstate, social media can be the only way to connect,” Graciela says.
“Many of the people in my classes use social media to keep up with what’s happening with family overseas or with the grandkids so when someone does call, they have seen the photos and know what the family is talking about.”
The joy of learning new things
Ruth Macleod, 87, is an artist, tennis player and Facebook fanatic. “I’m interested in new things,” Ruth says when asked why she joined Graciela’s social media classes. “I wanted to learn as much as I could.”
Ruth also just completed an online course in family history from the University of Tasmania, and a photography class at the Wellbeing Lounge, furthering her web-savvy credentials.
John White, 84, lives at Australian Unity’s Walmsley Retirement Community in Kilsyth, Victoria, and considers himself a perpetual student. John has taken advantage of the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Melbourne and Graciela’s social media classes “to keep my mind agile”.
With a better understanding of Facebook thanks to Graciela’s classes, John has been able to keep up to date with his daughter’s family who live in the United States. “I can keep tabs on what’s going on,” John says. “I’m able to see photos of my granddaughter and keep in contact, despite living on the other side of the world.”