Internet use could help combat loneliness for seniors, think tank suggests
A new report suggests pensioners could benefit from basic digital skills training.
The study, released by think tank Policy Exchange, said teaching over 65s how to access the internet, send emails and use social networking could reduce loneliness by making it easier to connect with friends and family.
In the next 20 years, the number of people aged 85 or above is set to double, and the report warns of the risk of isolation for seniors as friends and family move further apart to work and live.
In the UK, one in ten people are estimated to visit their GP because they are lonely – encouraging over 65s to go online could prove one of the most effective strategies for tackling isolation and helping to counter the rising costs of an ageing population, the think tank said.
The report further suggests investing in providing basic training could yield huge economic and social benefits in the UK – currently, four in ten seniors aged 65 or over do not have access to the internet at home.
The cost of training 6.2 million people would cost £875 million by 2020, approximately £141 per person. In contrast, this investment could be offset by the nearly £1.7 billion saved each year as people continue to abandon paper bills and telephone payments in favour of digital transactions.
“In an increasingly isolated and fast-moving world it is vital that everyone in society is able to use the internet and understand its benefits,” the report’s author, Eddie Copland, told the BBC.
“From alleviating social isolation, bringing together communities, paying bills and now accessing public services online can improve lives.
“Being able to simply write an email or access a social networking site could provide older people with a way to stay connected to their friends and families, who may live hundreds of miles away.”
Feedback from our own members at Silversurfers supports the idea that going online can be an enriching experience – we have over 200,000 active members connected through Facebook and more than 15,000 seniors visiting the website daily to connect with one another and take advantage of the many benefits of having so much information at their fingertips.
What do you think? Could learning to use the internet help tackle loneliness as we age?
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