Older adults may often feel depressed but if you do not want to see your grandparents feeling blue, you might want to introduce them to a technology younger people are very familiar with, the internet.
In a research published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B March 26, researchers sought to study the link between the use of internet in older adults in the U.S. and depression by analyzing data from the Health and Retirement Study gathered for six years from 2002 to 2008 and involving 3,075 older Americans.
The researchers measured the depression levels of the participants using a shorter version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD). They also measured the participant's internet usage by asking them how frequently they use the internet to access their emails or for other purposes.
By comparing depression scores, the researchers found that internet users were 33 percent less likely to suffer from depression than those who do not use the internet.
"Our dynamic probit model indicates that for retired older adults in the United States, Internet use was found to reduce the probability of a depressed state by about 33%," the researchers reported. "This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness. Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation and depression."
Study researcher Shelia Cotten from the Michigan State University said that older adults often feel more depressed, lonelier and more socially isolated than younger people because they have difficulty keeping in touch with their family. Mobility and health issues, for instance, prevent them from travelling to be with their loved ones.
The ability to use the internet to communicate with and see the photos of their children and grandchildren, however, can help older adults to keep in touch. Cotten said that while older people may not be able to easily learn how to use the internet as easily as younger people, they are still capable of learning how to use the computer and the internet.
Nonetheless, Cotten advises people who want to get older people to use the internet to use tablets rather laptop or desktop because these are easier to use and are more portable.