Brand new research by Age UK shows that nearly three-quarters of people aged 70 and over in the UK are worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life right now.
As part of this same research, 2.9 million of them said their mental health has already been affected.
With the social distancing rules that have been put in place by the Government, millions of the country’s senior citizens remain in lockdown and while safety during this time is paramount the rise in depression, anxiety and loneliness has become just as prevalent.
This is especially true across the UK’s care home sector where a number of residents and patients are finding themselves quarantined and ‘shielded’ in their rooms to avoid catching COVID-19 – necessary measures that ultimately are restricting their human contact and connection with loved ones.
Speaking about this issue, Iain O’Neil, NHSX Digital Transformation Director, recently said: “We are working hard to find and develop services that meet people’s equally unprecedented needs. Technology has never been so important to providing one of life’s most essential things – the ability to communicate with the people we love regardless of where they are.”
With that, Blueleaf, the UK’s leading care home supplier, is challenging care homes to actively introduce social technology to all its residents and has analysed the statistics behind it that demonstrate why it has become so essential.
Social Technology Is As Important Now Than Ever Before
Technology has taken many giant strides within the UK’s care sector over the last few years. Among the varying advancements, there has been the integration of smart home technology, patient monitoring, telemedicine and, to a certain degree, robots.
Hardware like laptops, tablets and smartphones are also far more readily available in the care sector now than ever before.
In line with that, further statistics from Ofcom show that UK seniors are, in fact, getting more digital too. The 2019 statistics show that 92% of seniors, aged between 64 and 75, use a mobile phone. That only drops to 81% for seniors aged over 75.
While UK seniors have the ability to communicate digitally more now than ever, there continues to be a year on year increase in the amount of senior Facebook users.
Senior Citizen Use Of Facebook Is At An All Time High
According to Statista, records show that more than 44.84 million people used Facebook during March of this year, just as lockdown was coming into effect.
Nearly 9% of that figure is made up of UK seniors aged 65 and over – meaning more than four million senior citizens are using the platform. By the end of 2019, seniors were also the fastest growing Facebook age demographic.
The old adage tells us that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Many people, who were born in a generation long before the internet, tablets and smartphones are finding ways to use new technology to suit them; whether that be keeping up with the latest updates, watching video content or keeping in touch with loved ones.
With free social media tools like Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype providing options to video call, it’s incredibly likely that we’re going to continue to see an upward trend in senior citizen’s social media use over the course of 2020.