Computer Use by Seniors May Help Their Mental Health

Seniors who become adept at and use a computer appear to have fewer depressive symptoms than those older adults who aren’t so technologically connected.

That’s the finding of a research study, Depression and Social Support Among Older Adult Computer Users, presented August 18 at the 113th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
The data regarding computer use and depressive symptoms was collected as part of the latest wave of an ongoing longitudinal study that is designed to determine the changes over time in physical health, mental health and social activity of older adults living in lower Manhattan.

Called VOICES (Villagers Over 65 Independent Living Challenges and Expectations), the research is being sponsored by Village Care of New York, a not-for-profit long-term care provider. “Villagers” refers to persons living in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and environs, representing the core group of individuals being followed over the course of the study, which began in 1998.

The computer use study was conducted by Edward Cisek, PhD, and Kathleen Triche, DSW, CSW.

Triche, who presented the study’s findings at the conference in Washington, D.C., said that the researchers decided to look into the impact of the growing use of computers by seniors on the hypothesis that those using computers would report fewer depressive symptoms than non-users.

Through observations at one of Village Care’s senior information centers in New York City, which Triche directs, computer use there seemed to give older adults a greater connection with the world around them.

“Given the social and informational nature of older adults’ computer practices – e-mail, chat rooms and health information gathering, for example, it seemed likely that this would be beneficial to an individual’s overall mental health,” Triche said.

In the computer study, it was determined, after controlling for a number of background characteristics, that seniors who were computer users reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms than their counterparts who do not use the computer.

Researchers also found that computer users tended to be among the younger members of the study group and have higher annual household incomes, while also reporting higher functioning in activities of daily living than the rest of the seniors in the study group.

“Clearly, those older adults in this study who use computers report fewer depressive symptoms, regardless of how many hours per week they use the computers,” Triche said, cautioning, however that these findings are among a generally highly educated group residing in a limited geographic area.

Future research in this area should include more diverse populations and use other measures of social connectiveness.

Participants in the survey included an urban community sample of 206 adults over the age of 65 (with a mean age of 80) that was randomly selected from three zip codes in lower Manhattan.

Reprinted from “Medical News Today” Article Date: 22 Aug 2005
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/29466.php
VILLAGE CARE OF NEW YORK

New Blog for Senior Computer Users

Hi everyone, welcome to the new blog.

The purpose of this blog is to create a community where folk of senior years and other beginner computer users can all learn from each other and support each other in our journey towards making more use of our computers and finding ways to earn extra income from them and from the internet.

For those unfamiliar with the word ‘blog’, it is derived from the term ‘web log’ and is basically a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. These entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.

Blogs are a great way to involve people because they give everyone a chance to make comments on any material posted or to send in helpful answers to problems other members have written in about, so this blog will be replacing the newsletter that some of you were receiving.

Many of you don’t know me, so I’d like to introduce myself. I am a baby boomer, living in Queensland, Australia at present, but thanks to the internet, am in frequent contact with people all over the world. I have two daughters and three grandchildren living on the other side of Australia and the rest of my family living in New Zealand or scattered all over the globe. Naturally I am a frequent user of email & Skype to keep in contact with them. (For those who don’t know about, or use skype, it uses the internet to make long distance phone calls that are free to other skype users or allow you to ring someone’s regular phone very cheaply. We will be doing an article about skype and other similar systems – so stay tuned. If you register to receive email notification of new posts, you’ll get the news immediately this topic is posted.)

I have been a computer buff for twenty years or so after buying my first home computer. Believe it or not, it didn’t have a hard drive at all, just 2 single sided 5.25″ floppy disks and just a little amber screen about 150 x 100mm!

While not an expert in any area, over the years I have helped many, many people to learn how to use their computer better and about eight years ago I started giving structured, one-on-one computer lessons, mainly for seniors.

During this time, I came across a great number of people who had acquired a computer by various means, some by being given an outgrown desktop model from family members who had upgraded, or buying a cheaper PC (personal computer), new or second-hand for themselves or even, as my own mother has done, buying a laptop for the convenience of being able to use it anywhere (like in a warm room in winter!).

One of the things that saddened me was to find that many of these owners would like to get more use from their PC, but were scared to do much in case they damaged something; they didn’t know how to do more than just some of the basic tasks and in many cases, ended up only using these marvellous tools for email and playing patience (or solitaire, if that is how you know it). If this is you, don’t worry – playing solitaire is a great way to become proficient with your mouse!

Now that’s fine if you are happy to be just using your computer for email because it certainly allows you take keep in touch with distant relatives and friends almost instantly. However, for those who would like to take advantage of other functions and features, I’m hoping that the information in this blog, and the comments from others, will inspire you and bring you information and tools to assist you as you learn to make your computer work for you.

Learning can be great fun or it can be a drag, it all depends on how you approach it and what you want to get out of it. Naturally the reasons for people wanting to learn more will be many and varied so the plan is to present some projects/information for beginners and some in varying levels for more advanced users. I won’t be re-inventing the wheel, but will be bringing together ideas, games and projects devised by others into this blog, so that you have a base to work outwards from.

Working along alone is sometimes hard and we lose momentum and hope. I’ve found from personal experience that by belonging to a community of like-minded people, there’s nearly always someone ‘out there’ who can help with something you’re stuck on, or just to say ‘hey, I know what it’s like. I nearly gave up, but hang in there, try this and you’ll soon have the hang of it’.

Do you know that studies have shown that the point where most of us give up is when we are nearly there? I’m sure this resonates with some of you, it certainly did for me when I first heard it. So, hang in there, ask a question, make a post – just don’t feel isolated as there are thousands of people our age out there getting a great deal in so many ways from our PCs.

There will be articles from other senior clubs and forums, ‘how to’ articles, reviews of products and also a special area devoted to using your computer and the internet to earn money. I doubt that there is anyone, not matter what age, who would not find it useful to have another stream of residual income, so there will also be links to information, programs and products that could be helpful on your journey.

I would love to hear suggestions from readers on topics they’d like to learn about so please write your ideas in the ‘Suggest Ideas’ area. You also have the opportunity to make comments after any post. Perhaps add extra ideas or methods that have worked for you and would help others. If you think what is written is rubbish, you are free to say that also, but please abide by the rules, no spamming, no personal attacks and no offensive language.

It is my hope that by coming here often to check out what is on offer we can become a community that shares and grows together.

If you would like to be sent an email whenever there is a new post, enter you name and email address in the form on the home page.

Please be assured, this site is not primarily to push you to buy anything. I would be happy for you to join in, contribute your ideas and never buy a single thing, but please respect the position of others who may want to do so, especially if they are building an on-line business. I would not be where I am today without buying products and mentoring along the way so there will be space for featured & recommended products as well as helpful hints, ideas and general information here on the site. If any readers wish to contribute original articles, please email me.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes, Trish