Washington : With a few finger strokes or swipes on a computer or smartphone, older adults with pain may reduce their risk of depression when visiting social media sites, according to a study. Researchers at the University of Michigan in the US found that using social media can reduce the negative health effects of curtailed social contact that comes as a consequence of pain. The findings are significant among an ageing society where social isolation and loneliness are key determinants of well-being. “Our results may be possibly extended to other forms of conditions (eg, chronic illnesses, functional limitations) that, like pain, also restrict physical activity outside of the home,” said Shannon Ang, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan.
Ang, along with Tuo-Yu Chen of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, used data from a nationally representative survey involving more than 3,400 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older in 2011. The respondents were asked about depression, pain and their social participation. The data, however, does not distinguish between the types of social media that older adults use — although 17 per cent of them had used a social networking site in the last month. To capture if purported benefits were from social media and not just from general internet use, the analysis was adjusted for various online uses such as paying bills or shopping for groceries, Ang said. The findings showed older adults who experienced pain were less likely to participate in social activities that require face-to-face interactions, which offers mental benefits. Social media may preserve cognitive function and psychological well-being in this population, the researchers said.
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