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Live-in Carers Help Elderly Get Online to Combat Loneliness

According to a recent study by the Campaign to End Loneliness, there over 1.2 million older people in the UK who feel lonely most or all of the time, which is defined as chronic loneliness. 89 percent of those surveyed in the study believe that loneliness in old age is now more likely than ever – rising to 93 percent of those aged 65-plus.

While younger generations debate over whether the internet connects or alienates, the older population is increasingly finding digital life a positive way to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. With the help of live-in carers matched through high-quality providers like Elder, George has found a way to connect with his loved ones through technology.

He talks face-to-face with his daughter and grandchildren twice a week, even though they live 100 miles away from his Coventry home. His live-in care helper Ria helps him to log on to Skype on a laptop to say hello to nine-year-old Ethan and five-year-old Emily. In this way, he catches up on how their days have gone, what they are doing at school and is able to tell them about his day in return.

It’s a piece of everyday magic that many of us now take for granted thanks to the internet – the ability to be with our loved ones and friends now even if we are separated geographically. But for older people like 74-year-old George, whose mobility issues restrict much of his contact with the world beyond his house, it can be the difference between disconnection and real everyday continuity with his family.

Few would argue that digital life can replace real-life – personal contact still remains the most meaningful form of connection for most people. But for elderly people, particularly those who are housebound, use of the internet and social media has been shown to have positive effects in alleviating loneliness, boredom and isolation.

And as such, it can be another powerful tool – alongside live-in care from innovative providers such as Elder who enable older people to remain in their own home – to help people stay connected to the world, and even broaden their horizons at a time when they might feel they are contracting.

The demographic clearly agrees: internet use among the 65+ age group is one of the fastest growing and a recent study showed that 71 percent went online daily, with 34 percent using social media regularly. However, according to research by the charity Age UK, the sweet spot is still this early decade, with 61 percent of people aged 75+ having never used the internet, whether through a feeling that “it’s not for me”, fear of “doing something wrong” or just perhaps never having been introduced to the basics to build confidence as a user.

And it’s not just the emotional aspects of older life that can benefit from a digital boost. Research has also indicated that regular internet use can play an important role in helping to exercise the minds of seniors.

A study entitled ‘Ages 2.0’ carried out on 120 seniors over two years in the UK and Italy found that when elderly people were trained to use social media, Skype and email they performed better cognitively and showed improved health overall. Mental and physical capacity was shown to have improved, in contrast to the control group who experienced a steady decline in both. Importantly, participants reported feeling “invigorated” and “stimulated” rather than “slipping into a slower pace”.

With so many potential benefits, it’s clear that supporting and empowering older people to get online can be a positive addition to a happier, healthier later life. Digital inclusion looks set to be one of the big social challenges to meet with an increasingly ageing population, and as such, getting people used to new technology as early as possible is important.

The cost of live-in care can be more affordable than you may think and is often up to 30% cheaper than a care home place. To find out more about how a one-to-one live-in carer can help your loved one, speak to one of Elder’s live-in care specialists at 033 3920 2827.

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