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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

How Social Media and Technology Are Changing the Lives of the Elderly | KDRV

"Livia Weinstein didn't know what to expect when she created a Facebook account almost 10 years ago" continues Alicia Matsuura, Deseret News.

The now 79-year-old from Washington, D.C., said her reason for joining the online world was due more to her desire to keep up with the times than a means for socialization. To the former school counselor, nothing could replace the value of face-to-face communication with all its inflections and tones, a characteristic absent from instant messaging and texting.

She didn't appreciate the powerful impact of social media until one day she was overcome with curiosity and typed her maiden name, "Morpurgo," into her Facebook search bar. Not expecting to find anything, it surprised her when she discovered distant family members whom she had never met.

After connecting with each other, they eventually created a "Morpurgo family" group page to organize online communication. The page has since grown and now consists of over 150 members. Two years after making initial contact, the family organized a gathering in Trieste, Italy, the land of their roots. They shared family stories, visited cemeteries, explored historical sites and even the Morpurgo Museum. These visits helped them trace the family line back to the 16th century. It was a special experience for Weinstein, who lost contact with her Italian relatives after immigrating to the United States in 1939.

"It's nice to know you have other relatives, more family than just the immediate family here," Weinstein said. "Just finding people with the same background, same name is amazing. It was a very interesting thing that would have never happened if it wasn't for the internet and Facebook."

Older adults across the United States are adjusting to a world of advancing technology. Not only are they accepting the changes, but some, like Weinstein, are actively implementing technology in their daily lives.

According to a May 2017 study conducted by Pew Research Center, 67 percent of adults age 65 and older in the United States were active online users in 2016 — a big jump from 2000 when only 14 percent of seniors claimed to be internet users.

Over the next decade as the baby boomer generation continues to age, the number of seniors using the internet is expected to increase, highlighting benefits and challenges of its impact on a large aging population — including both positive and negative effects on the brain.

Source: KDRV