How to Overcome Loneliness By Going Digital As You Age

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15 May 2020

How to Overcome Loneliness By Going Digital As You Age

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You wake up, drink your coffee, check the mail, water your plants. Maybe you'll call the kids, but wait, it's Tuesday, they're at work, and your grandkids are at school. You've already finished building that ship in a bottle, the 1500 piece puzzle your grandson gave you for Christmas, the house is clean-ish… now what? Sleep, wake, repeat. Did you know that research suggests that loneliness has such a negative impact on health that it actually equates to smoking as much as 15 cigarettes a day? Did you know that in the UK, over 1million elderly people reported not being spoken to by another human being sometimes for as much as a month at a time! That's crazy!

So can the internet beat loneliness? Here are the facts. A recent study conducted by a University in Turkey took 500 men and women between the ages of 55-65 and broke them into two groups, internet users and non-internet users. The study concluded that participants who used the internet were significantly less lonely than those who didn't. So lonely + internet = good! You with me?

Here are five ways you can use the internet and technology to beat loneliness, boredom and get more involved in the millions of incredible things that are taking place online right now.

1. Facebook Groups & Communities

There are literally thousands of exciting and engaging groups and communities, all on Facebook. If you're into gardening, old cars, movies, music, exercise, golfing, painting, pottery, it doesn't matter, there's a group for it, no matter how niche. These groups share photos and discuss tips, ideas, and sometimes even sell or give away free items they no longer need or want. To search for a group of your favourite sport, activity or topic, go to Facebook https://www.facebook.com.au, then at the top is a search bar. Click on the search bar and type in anything you like, "cricket," "candle making," "antiques," and hit enter. At the top, you'll see GROUPS. Click on the group title to read and learn more. If you like the group, you can click "Join Group." Some groups you can join automatically and others you need to answer a few questions and wait for approval in your notifications. Once you're in, you can start reading and posting! You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn, who you’ll meet and how many hours will fly by just having fun.

2. Fit bit

A Fitbit is a great way to help you stay active, and because they've been around for years, so they're now super easy to use. A Fitbit can track how far you walk, run, swim, jog, how long you sleep, and the quality of your sleep along with your heart rate. Having a Fitbit encourages you to get out more, go for walks, reach new goals, and you can even join in on online group exercise challenges. You can add "friends" on a Fitbit just like on Facebook, communicate with them, meet up for a coffee, or you can use the GPS to track your walking route, see how far you went, and then store that route to guide you on your next walk. Maybe you can even join a Fitbit group on Facebook and start sharing and chatting about all the other amazing other things your Fitbit can do. Plus, think of the benefits of getting more exercise, better sleep, more flexibility, more energy and a happier life overall!

3. Video calls

A lot of us have family who have moved overseas or to another town or state. There's no better way to keep in touch than with a video call. Any smartphone, iPad, or computer with a camera will allow you to do a video call. You can call using Facebook messenger, Apple Facetime, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, Skype, Zoom, Tango, Wechat or Discord, only to name a few. To download these onto your computer or smartphone, just google the name, "free" and "download", ex. Type in - "WeChat free download." Make sure you download one that works for your phone or computer type, Android, Apple, Mac, PC, etc. Now start calling! Each app comes with free help to show you how to use it. Click on "help" and start reading; that's what it's there for. What about joining a Facebook group to learn to chat with an online community about how to use Zoom or Facetime?

4. Online Dating

No way right? Just hear me out. You don't ever have to meet the person if you don't want to. And what's wrong with a little flirting? You might even make a new friend. In fact, in a recent study, over 67% of those over age 60 who joined online dating sites in Australia made at least a new friend in their first 6 months of signing up.

Some great websites in Australia for anyone over 50+ to start connecting are:

Silver Singles - https://www.silversingles.com.au/

eharmony (for seniors) - https://www.eharmony.com.au/lifestyle/senior-dating/

RSVP - https://www.rsvp.com.au/

Just remember, some of these sites do require a credit card, so check costs first. And remember, sometimes finding good company costs a few bucks. If you took someone out for a coffee three times a month and had a great time, would the cost be worth it? The only difference here is you need to make your own coffee, and she or he is just online instead. Give it a go!

5. Learning Online

Lastly, but most importantly, is learning. You can literally learn ANYTHING you have ever imagined online. You could learn how to dissect and alien if you really wanted to. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to crochet, build a model airplane or speak Italian, then there's a course out there. Not only is learning fun, it's a great way to keep your brain active and help prevent you from the potential of getting Alzheimer's or dementia.

Head to google; google is your best friend, just remember that. Try these types of searches: "Italian lessons" or "Learn Italian" or "Learn Italian for free." Start clicking on the links and reading what the lessons or courses have to offer, how much they cost, how frequent they are, and what country they are teaching them from.

Have no money? No problem. Another great place to learn online is YouTube https://www.youtube.com/. You can watch videos to learn anything here, and it's all free. You just have to watch a few short ads here and there at the start and middle of some videos, but otherwise, this site is full of solid gold information on every topic on the planet.

So now you know five new ways to keep boredom at bay, using nothing but the technology sitting right in front of you. Now pick just two and try them both today. What new things did you discover, who did you meet and who will you meet tomorrow?

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