Internet use may prevent depression among seniors

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American seniors who surf the Web regularly are less likely to feel depressed by about 33 per cent compared to those who shun the internet, according to research published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.

“The largest impacts on depression were actually for those people who lived alone, so it’s really suggesting that it’s about connecting with others, eliminating isolation and loneliness,” said lead author Shelia Cotten.

It is estimated that five to ten million Americans older than 50 suffer from depression. However, older adults are more at risk for loneliness and social isolation than the younger generation, she told Reuters.

Even though older people encounter more difficulties in learning how to use the internet, the research revealed that those between the age of 80 and 100 are still capable of using the internet.

“So I would really encourage people to help their older loved ones to get online” as it can help them contact their family and friends, said Cotten, who works at Michigan State University.

Her advice for adult children who want their older parents to go online is to use tablets rather than desktop computers or laptops, as these are more preferred by seniors due to their portability and user-friendliness.

Another suggestion is to start with simple lessons and assure the seniors that they are not going to break the gadget. If something goes wrong, inform them that it can be fixed easily.

The study analysed the responses gathered by the US Health and Retirement Survey over a six-year period from 3,075 retired Americans.

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