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Although older adults as a group continue to lag behind their younger counterparts in adopting new technology, an increasing number of elders like Raymond and Schmidt are using the Internet, Facebook, Skype, and other tools to connect with friends, family members, and caregivers.Social workers who ignore the role of technology in older adults’ relationships risk missing an important piece of the puzzle in helping these adults maintain and improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.While there are not many senior-specific online communities, you’ll find plenty that bring together people of all ages who share a particular hobby or passion. Check out Explore and view live webcams of cats, dogs, and wildlife.Researchers at UCLA have found that seniors who practice meditation were able to reduce feelings of loneliness and also boost their immune systems.Click here to see Senior Planet’s list of free online courses. Numerous studies have shown that those suffering with depression and anxiety feel better when helping others.Performing acts of kindness pushes aside negative emotions.Recent statistics show that seniors are rapidly entering the social networks arena.
Companies nationwide are trying to tap into the market opportunities by taking well-known technology modalities, such as social networking, e-mailing, and Internet browsing, and making them “elder friendly.” Freddolino, for example, is providing research support to Connected Living, a Massachusetts-based company that promotes a multifaceted approach to technology engagement among older adults.Now, he regularly Skypes with relatives not only in California but also in New York, Florida, and Texas.Raymond and Schmidt are not plugged-in teenagers or young adults raised on a steady diet of technology.Social networking also is increasing among this age group, as about one-third of older adult Internet users visit sites such as Facebook and Linked In, up from 13% in 2009.Eleven percent of adults aged 65 and older own a smartphone.