We previously summarized research by Age Lessons, United Healthcare, and the National Alliance for Caregiving. These reports, called “Home Tweet Home” and “e-Connected Family Caregivers” reported on the increased use of social media by Baby Boomers.
Today we want to highlight ways that social media can help to bolster emotional well-being. Family caregivers and seniors alike often find themselves feeling isolated. In fact, nearly 60% of individuals receiving services from California’s Caregiver Resource Centers display symptoms of clinical depression. Between balancing family, work, and caregiving responsibilities, many caregivers are left without time to nurture connections with friends, family members and peers.
Social media can provide family caregivers a much needed link to social interaction that may otherwise be neglected. With an abundance of social media sites available on the web, family caregivers can use social media to bolster their mood, keep up with current events, review information on senior services and more. Here are some social media sites and ways that caregivers have used them to help in their family caregiving journey:
Sites like Facebook allow individuals to create profile pages where both photos and thoughts can be shared via “status updates.” Additionally, connections with others can be made by establishing a network of friends with whom you can share your photos and experiences. On a rough day, comments from friends may be just what you need to keep going. As noted in “Home Tweet Home: The Age Lesson Boomer Social Media Study” (Age Lessons), many caregivers use sites like Facebook to coordinate care and send quick messages between family and friends to manage a family care team.
A number of caregiving-centered sites provide forums where family caregivers can participate in online conversations. After establishing a profile, users can browse these forums, post topics, respond to topics posted by others or simply read about the experiences and advice of others. Acting as a virtual support group, online forums give caregivers who may not have time to attend a support group in person an online source of inspiration and guidance. Family Caregiver Alliance hosts several forums for family caregivers that can be accessed at this link.
With posts limited to 140 characters, Twitter offers quick bursts of information. Users can follow their own personal friends, as well as experts in any industry. By following senior care experts, family caregivers can receive notice of current elder care trends, while simultaneously following their favorite comedians to receive mid-day laughs. Also beneficial is the ability to share your own thoughts via tweets and receive feedback from other followers.
Yelp, Pinterest, and More:
Time-strapped caregivers can utilize review and recommendation sites to help reduce the amount of research time needed. For instance, finding supplies for caregiving can sometimes turn into a monumental task. You can use Pinterest to save items that you have found to be helpful, and you can browse other user’s pinboards to see what others have found helpful. If you need to find a service or certain type of store, Yelp provides user reviews to help you save time and choose more highly-rated businesses.
Social media is an effective tool for time strapped family caregivers to both garner important information, and find time to interact with friends and keep up on current events. Have you found that using social media improves your mood and feeling of connection to the outside world? Leave a comment and share your favorite social sites!