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Based on research by S. R. Cotton, et al (2014), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Did you know using the Internet might help older adults reduce their probability of becoming depressed?

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that as many as 10% of Americans over the age of 50 are affected by late life depression. In a recent longitudinal study of 3000 older adults, who completed a questionnaire at four different time periods, researchers evaluated the relationship between Internet use and emotional well being. Results revealed that Internet use may help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation by helping participants maintain contact with their social network, engage social support, and obtain information for decision making. In fact, Internet use led to a 33% reduction in the probability of developing depression. This was especially apparent for those individuals who lived alone as it increased their social support, contact, and feelings of connectedness. Unlike other media, the Internet can be fully interactive and provide a sense of control.

Using the Internet can positively contribute to the mental well being of older adults. So get on line and encourage your loved ones to log online and stay connected too! This may reduce their and your feelings of loneliness and decrease the probability of becoming depressed.

Cotten, S. R., Ford, G., Ford, S., & Hale, T. M. (2014). Internet use and depression among retired older adults in the United States: A longitudinal analysis. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69(5), 763-771.

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