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Stanford Medicine

Aging, Media, Research, Technology

How social media and online communities can improve clinical care for elderly patients

A past report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that older adults have enthusiastically embraced social media tools. Now comes new research indicating that social media and online communities can provide valuable support for elderly patients in managing their health. Consumer Affairs reports:

“For me, it was interesting to learn that there is evidence for a large potential of social media in clinical practices,” said [Dr. Anja Leist of the University of Luxembourg]. “Older adults can use social media to access health-related information and engage in patient-to-patient-doctor conversations. There are many online forums where people in difficult life situations, such as informal caregivers of a spouse with dementia or individuals with depression, can exchange thoughts as well as receive and provide social support.

“Other positive consequences are that lonely adults can overcome loneliness through contact to family and friends and other users with similar interest,” Leist said.

However, researchers cautioned that several challenges need to be addressed before social media can be used in a clinical setting to help manage patients treatment, such as protecting personal health information and assisting seniors in identifying accurate online sources for medical information.

Previously: Study shows Internet can help raise awareness about cancer prevention, A look at social-media use among psoriasis patients and Patient online peer group offers community, drives research

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