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The Role of the Internet in Mental Wellbeing

Technology has become a crucial element in modern society. For most of us it is an important part of our everyday lives, helping us to organise our schedules, communicate with each other and source the best bargains. New developments continue to improve the lives of people across all the generations.

The Rise of the Silver Surfer

There is a common misconception that older people are technophobes who lack the necessary understanding and skills to access the latest technological developments, but recent research shows that this is not actually the case. In fact, many older people have embraced the digital era with huge enthusiasm and greatly value their devices, from mobile phones to computers and digital cameras.

A recent report by Sheffield University indicates that older people cite ease of use as the principal reason why they love these devices so much. They help them to live a more independent life, which is of great value to their sense of wellbeing.

Perhaps surprisingly, some of the technological advances which one might expect the elderly to find useful can actually alienate them. For example, the mobile alert pendants often issued to the vulnerable elderly can be viewed as something which stigmatises them.

Keeping Mentally Alert

Ongoing studies have shown that older people who regularly use the internet feel a greater sense of independence, while at the same time it has been proven that keeping mentally active can dramatically delay the onset of mental decline associated with ageing.

Research conducted by London Bridge Hospital endorses the saying ?use it or lose it?, pointing out that computers provide a valuable method of learning and communication to all generations; especially so the elderly if suffering from other disabilities which may limit their ability to get out and about.

Thanks to the huge increase in wireless devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, even the most housebound individuals can still participate in a range of activities that provide mental stimulation. This has been shown to enhance memory and mental wellbeing.

Age UK actively promotes the use of technology for the older generations and is working hard to promote tuition and equipment for this age group. The organisation recognises the huge benefits to older people, whether living alone, in sheltered accommodation or in care homes, of accessing the power of modern technology for a range of life-enhancing activities.

Communicating with friends and family is an important aspect of most people?s lives, and thanks to mobile phones, video communications and social media, this can be of huge benefit for those who can?t get out and about as easily as others.

Even learning some of the skills involved in using modern technology can provide a powerful motivating focus for older people, maintaining their independence and allowing them to continue to make choices both big and small.

The organisation is keen to improve training for those in need, including access to the necessary equipment, coupled with mentoring programmes where appropriate. The benefits have been shown to be literally life-enhancing.

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