Social Media Can Support Healthiness of Older People

The use of social media by older people can offer valuable additional support in cases of sickness and diseases, new research from the University of Luxembourg has shown. In a new publication, Dr Anja Leist from the University's Research Unit INSIDE, concludes that possibilities for a systematic application in clinical practice seem promising.

With the rise of user-friendly devices such as tablets and other web-enabled devices, older adults now engage in social media, such as online social networks, discussion boards, and online forums, more frequently. The evidence for the large potential of social media use in clinical practise had not been systematically investigated until now.

The review of existing studies by Dr Leist, associated with the Technology and Ageing Working Group of Professor Dieter Ferring, explores the manifold intervention possibilities, such as designing web sites to provide information on hip fracture prevention where older adults can also discuss their experiences.

Besides the potential for clinical practise and other positive consequences in everyday use of social media, the researchers also addressed the possible negative consequences of social media use.

With the successful use of a computer or web-enabled device, older adults report enhanced feelings of control and self-efficacy, but social media provides even more benefits for older adults.

"For me, it was interesting to learn that there is evidence for a large potential of social media in clinical practice. Older adults can use social media to access health-related information and engage in patient-to-patient or patient-doctor conversations. There are many online forums where people in difficult life situations, such as informal caregivers of a spouse with dementia or individuals with depression, can exchange thoughts as well as receive and provide social support. Other positive consequences are that lonely older adults can overcome loneliness through contact to family and friends and other users with similar interests," says Dr Leist.

However the negative consequences of social media use for older adults have yet to be investigated and literature from related fields show the potential for possible pitfalls. Some examples are access to harmful information and misuse of personal data. Other negative effects have been shown to be unfavourable social comparisons due to overly positive self-representations of others displayed in online social networks.

Dr. Leist raised the point of the lack of clarity on posthumous management of online web content, i.e. when the user has passed away. Another crucial unresolved issue is the data handling when a user develops an illness which leads to compromised decision-making ability such as dementia. With no possibility to modify online content, unless the user has agreed beforehand with full decision-making ability, inappropriate behaviour or displayed web content could pose a danger to others, but also impend the dignity of the user.

Leist, A. K. (in press). Social media use of older adults – A mini-review. Gerontology. DOI: 10.1159/000346818

Most Popular Now

Open Call SC1-DTH-12-2020: Use of Real-W…

The number of people with chronic illness is growing and almost half of them have multiple chronic conditions. Patients with complex chronic conditions (CCCs) have chronic multi-morbidities or chronic disease...

China to Take on Leading Role in Medical…

Asia, in particular China, has been advancing significantly on its way to a key role in geopolitics, says correspondent Frank Sieren - and towards spearheading developments in medical technologies. At...

Doctors Give Electronic Health Records a…

The transition to electronic health records (EHRs) was supposed to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare for doctors and patients alike - but these technologies get an "F" rating...

Artificial Intelligence Algorithm can Le…

Artificial Intelligence can be used to predict molecular wave functions and the electronic properties of molecules. This innovative AI method developed by a team of researchers at the University of...

Preventive Health Care Via App

Demand for apps for preventive health care is growing all the time. Particularly popular are diagnostic assistants that record physiological and fitness data. However, there are data protection concerns with...

Bittium Exhibits its Innovative High-Tec…

Bittium exhibits its innovative products and solutions for cardiology and neurology at Medica 2019, the leading international trade fair for the medical sector, on November 18 - 21 in Dusseldorf...

Artificial Intelligence-Based Algorithm …

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant global cause of mortality and morbidity with an increasing incidence, especially in low-and-middle income countries. The most severe TBIs are treated in intensive...

MEDICA 2019 + COMPAMED 2019 Due to Launc…

18 - 21 November 2019, Düsseldorf, Germany. From Monday until Thursday, the entire medical world and health care sector will once again meet in Düsseldorf. With a record participation of a...

A Mobile App for Managing Mobile Medical…

Beginning of March 2019, Merci Charity Boutique association based in Bucharest, Romania started testing the "Mobile app for mobile medical units and cabinets", which helps the mobile dental practice to...

#FH2019 - The Leading International Conf…

13 - 15 November 2019, Berlin, Germany. This year the German capital will host again the main conference dedicated to Digital Health: Frontiers Health 2019, which will be held from the...

MEDICA and COMPAMED Hold their Own in a …

18 - 21 November 2019, Düsseldorf, Germany. The demand market for medical technology and medical products is becoming increasingly challenging and discriminating worldwide. Providers are adapting to this on a flexible...

GE Healthcare Expands Intelligent Health…

GE Healthcare launched the Edison Developer Program to accelerate the adoption and impact of intelligent applications and developer services across health systems. The program is based on Edison, GE Healthcare's...