Guess who’s coming to dinner? Guess who’s not? Older adults who choose to make good use of technology as a means to communicate with others are the ones who are more likely to stay connected, informed, and engaged. Unfortunately, people who turn their backs on technology and communication devices are, quite frankly, left out of the loop.
These days, successfully aging people can add the liberal use of technology-enhanced communication devices as a means to live a happier, healthier lifestyle. No longer considered add-ons or luxury items, daily doses of e-mail exchanges, talking on cell phones, text messaging, “Googling” lost acquaintances, listening to music on iPods, blogging, online support groups, cyber games, sending and receiving digital photos, and searching the Internet are every bit as critical to one’s own physical and emotional well being as diet and exercise.
Studies reveal that the elderly American population is the fastest growing market for computer usage. It’s no wonder since they are quickly discovering that technology is helping them to keep up with the rest of the world and stay close to those they love. Devices that assist in the process of writing, reading, talking, seeing, thinking, hearing and telephoning are keeping older adults connected as well as more independent. An apple a day may keep the doctor away: but people who are staying close to friends and family, keeping the mind active, laughing, and having a sense of humor are living longer, healthier, and more satisfied lives.
A ten-year MacArthur Foundation study has proven, without a doubt, that a successful-aging healthstyle is a direct result of lifestyle choices rather than genetics or other factors beyond our control. Roger Landry, M.D., President of Masterpiece Living warns us that “not being socially connected raises the risk of dying prematurely. On the other hand, social connectivity enhances the immune system and therefore protects us from disease.”
Thanks to the times we live in and the wonders of technology, it’s becoming easier to communicate with others. The world is changing, and more changes will come in the future. Exploring the many ways to help our elderly loved ones “stay in the inner circle” will be of great benefit to us all.