Technology linked to reduced levels of depression in seniors

Many Canadians suffer from depression, including seniors. While medication and therapy are effective tools for the management of depression, there are also many ways to reduce symptoms naturally. If you're caring for an older parent with depression, one way you might help them to combat the illness is—remarkably—with technology.

Healing effects of technology
Retirement is the perfect time to adopt new technology and hobbies, especially for seniors living in retirement communities. Old age can no longer be equated with technological avoidance, as there are now many older adults online. For instance, take senior Edythe Kirchmaier, who started a Facebook page for charity at the age of 105! In fact, many senior living communities offer classes for residents to learn the basics of email, social media and online research that can help keep them connected and stay in the know about important news and updates.

This influx in Internet courses for seniors is the result of research that shows the positive effects of technology adoption. Sheila Cotten, professor of telecommunication, information studies and media at Michigan State University, performed a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences that explained the benefits of the Internet for seniors. According to the research, seniors who were part of the Internet course saw a 30 per cent reduction in the probability of depression.

Whether you show your older parent how to surf the Web or how to set up a social media account, the benefits will likely be seen once he or she gets the hang of it. When people are able to access information independently and connect with friends and family whenever they'd like, their moods are more likely to improve.

Increasing importance
Many Canadians are realizing the validity of this research. According to a recent report from the .CA Community Investment Program and Ipsos Reid, 77 per cent of those polled consider the Internet to be important for safety reasons. Additionally, 57 per cent of those with a senior parent feel that the Internet is also very important for staying connected to loved ones.

"With 1 in 6 Canadians now over the age of 65, this study confirms the urgency of supporting projects that connect Canada's seniors with digital skills," said David Fowler, Director of Marketing and Communications for .CA. "Investing in the Internet is critical to business and economic growth, but we also see benefits in keeping families, friends and communities connected."

Helping your parent understand the Internet can benefit them in the long run, and it can also be a bonding experience for both of you. Slowly go through the steps of accessing websites and starting social media accounts, and you may even learn something in the process!