With many people still living under pandemic restrictions that limit in-person gatherings, older adults have turned to online platforms like Zoom or FaceTime for video chats to stay connected with friends and family. New research has found that although a virtual visit doesn’t come close to being able to hug and see people in person, online tools including e-visits with loved ones and healthcare providers could help reduce the effects of dementia on older adults.
According to a recent CTV News report, a new study out of the University of West London’s Geller Institute of Aging and Memory revealed that elderly adults who regularly used online tools to communicate showed less decline in memory than those who did not utilize video-conferencing services.
Researchers studied the communication interactions of 11,418 men and women over the age of 50 for the study as well as testing participants’ memory by asking them to recall a list of 10 words at various intervals. Those who relied solely on face-to-face communication showed more signs of decline in memory than those who used a variety of ways to stay socially engaged, including online technology.
Regular social interaction is not only important for emotional well-being, research stresses the importance of relationships on cognitive health. By staying connected with others, by any means possible, older adults can help combat feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression that can have a significant impact on how motivated seniors are to take steps to support their overall good health.
Even when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, many seniors will continue to live much of their lives alone when family and friends pass away or move, or health problems limit mobility. But loved ones can continue to stay connected and help elderly adults live happier and healthier lives with regular video calls.
Video chats are also a great way to check for any signs of changes in behavior or appearance that could indicate a growing health problem in ways that a phone call can’t provide. For seniors with hearing loss, online communication using video may be easier to understand with the help of facial cues, body language, or messaging features.