Hurricane warnings involving millions of residents on the US East coast … many mandatory evacuations, including over 250,000 in New York City alone … dire warnings of historic storm impacts.
Hurricane Irene certainly presented an exceptional communications challenge for seniors and their families & caregivers – and hopefully the kick in the pants we need to get our elders connected to social media. It’s time to decide to get it done.
The tremendous use of social media (also called social networking) as a communications medium for governments, businesses, families and friends during preparations for – and in the aftermath of – the hurricane is coincidentally timed with the release of a Pew Research Center report that is both encouraging and misleadingly optimistic about our progress in getting seniors onto social media.
A new report from Pew Research reflects an increase in social networking sites used by those 65 and older over the last five years, from almost nothing up to 33%. What’s misleading – though certainly not intentionally so – about that statistic is that is means one-third of ONLINE seniors are using social media. When combined with Pew’s May 2011 survey results showing 42% of those 65 and older are online, it means we still have only 14% — less than 1 of 7 – seniors using social media.
We’ve talked before about the benefits of getting our senior loved ones on social media and certainly a situation like Hurricane Irene reinforces the benefits to them and us as their loved ones of this communications medium. Being able to touch base and converse with them is certainly important to both well being and peace of mind, but with so many communities and agencies communicating via social media, those not connected risk being left out of key messages. Unfortunately, even the latest statistics reflect that the vast majority of elder Americans are being left out.
Steps to Getting Seniors on Social Media
Getting our elder loved ones on social media is really a “simple” two-step process:
- Get them connected devices then
- Show them how to get on and use social networking sites
Certainly it is not as simple as it sounds, starting with devices. Makers of computers and other connected devices must provide devices that seniors find convenient and enjoyable to use. There are several already and the number is growing. We will highlight those in upcoming posts and podcasts.
Classes in social media use for seniors are being offered by many local community organizations, schools and government agencies. The best “classes” may be those conducted by children and grandchildren, whose enthusiasm and promise of a shared experience may motivate formation of a social media habit in their elder loved ones.
Families, Take the Initiative!
We, as family members, will benefit from our loved ones being on social media just as they will. Getting them connected and active may require us setting them up with the devices, signing them up and showing them how fun and easy it is to be online. We’ve heard from some in the Senior Care Corner community who have done this and are glad they did. We hope you’ll join them soon so you and your loved ones begin getting those benefits, both in critical times like weather emergencies and every day.
Key an eye on us for more as we make getting seniors connected an emphasis here at Senior Care Corner.
For those stumped about what to get senior loved ones for holiday or birthday gifts, connecting them to social media is truly a gift that will keep on giving – to both them and you!