The Benefit of Video Chat for Seniors

Senior couple using an iPad

When we think of users of the latest communications technologies, senior adults don’t usually come to mind. However, an increasing number of seniors are using these technologies today and are benefitting in a variety of ways. 

One of these important technologies is video chat. 

According to a Pew Research Center Report from 2017, the share of senior adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%) since 2013. Smartphones have opened the door to video chat and new opportunities for older Americans to engage in a more personal way with family members and others who are important in their lives. Video chatting is especially valuable for seniors who have difficulty getting around or whom live great distances from loved ones. 

For many seniors, there is nothing more uplifting than to see the faces and hear the voices of their grandchildren, and to be able to stay connected with them at the touch of a button. With its ability to bring families closer together, video chat has also proven to offer tangible health benefits to seniors.  

Video Chat Can Reduce Loneliness and the Dangers of Depression in Seniors

Says Janet McNemar, NHA, MBA, Executive Director and Administrator of Bryn Mawr Terrace in Bryn Mawr, PA, “Social isolation, and the loneliness and sadness that comes with it, pose a significant threat to the mental and physical well-being of many seniors today. It’s one of the reasons why we promote social engagement for all older adults, including our residents. 

“The good news is that video chat, using technologies such as FaceTime and Skype, is making a difference in how older Americans feel about their lives.”

A recent US News & World Report article addressed the growing problem of senior isolation and reported on research that found that video chat offers substantial hope. 

Says author and heath columnist David Levine, “As family members move away and friends pass on, seniors can feel alone and disconnected. (However) a recent study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, finds that one technology appears to work better than any other: video chatting.”

The study, led by Dr. Alan Teo, associate professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, reviewed four online communication technologies to determine which was most helpful to seniors:

  • Video chat
  • Email
  • Social media networks
  • Instant messaging

The researchers found that “older adults who used email, instant messaging or social media platforms like Facebook had about the same rate of depressive symptoms as those who did not use any communication technologies. But people who used video chat applications such as Skype and FaceTime had almost half the estimated probability of depressive symptoms, after adjusting for other factors, such as pre-existing depression and level of education.”

Dr. Tao adds, "Video chat came out as the undisputed champion. Older adults who used video chat technology had significantly lower risk of depression."

Nothing Beats Face-to-Face Time for Seniors

Dr. Philip R. Muskin, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, says, “Video chat really allows you to interact. It doesn’t match being there, but it’s in real time and is more compelling and engaging than talking on the phone or using email or any of the other technologies. I use (video chat) to see my grandchild.”

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles and tips on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated “Best in Senior Care.” 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “The Benefit of Video Chat for Seniors, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

 There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing careindependent living, personal carememory carerestorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician. 

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