Growing Old with Social Media – The Social Network for Senior Citizens

How do you see yourself using social media as you grow old into your 50s and beyond? Many things I suppose, as we are now already so actively using it. But how can our parents benefit from it, as a tool that will help them through their golden years?

Recently I have been putting a lot of thought into what my parents are going through… Age-related illness, loneliness as their kids move out and build their own families, difficulty catching up with technology and the evolving smartphones, missing their grandchildren, and their own siblings but having limited capacity to travel…

My parents can only use text messaging or dial to contact others. Although they know what facebook is, they are not sure about how to use it, and usually view it only when I showed them interesting posts, or updates from family members.

I see facebook as a great tool for sharing family updates, important announcements and useful resources, but how do we make it user-friendly for the present senior citizens who need these benefits but are short of the technical knowhow.

Would there be an easier platform to enable such powerful interaction? I mean ‘powerful’ because as we age, we need more interaction and assistance, as our mental and physical capabilities shrink. And social media has a great potential in filling the gap.

Criteria for a senior citizen’s social network interface:

1. Easy registration
2. Free, installed app in smartphones
3. Configured to easily add immediate and extended family members. One touch contact. Will be great if the contact can be linked to the dial feature.
4. A list of important links plus contacts of various resources related to health treatments and medical issues, home care
5. A list of interesting links, pages or forums related to craft, hobbies, spiritual articles, entertainment
6. A ready list of government forms, links that will be relevant for retirement needs and health insurance claims
7. A list of volunteers / certified health practitioners nearby who can help during an emergency

A commendable effort by Microsoft and their partnering teams:
http://seniornet.org/blog/virtual-senior-center-enhances-lives-of-homebound-seniors/

If anyone has more suggestions, feel free to add it through the comment box. I hope this interface will become a reality.

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