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Adults over 80 who use technology report boost in mental, physical health

technology-1000859_1280My 94-year-old grandmother has a smartphone. I know she enjoys seeing photos of my son (note to self: send a few today), but she's had a few mishaps, including late night calls to random relatives, which she fortunately finds quite funny.

Her use of technology is a good thing, according to a new Stanford study that found older adults who use embrace computers and smartphones are mentally and physically healthier. The research, which focused on the "oldest-old" population of adults over 80, appeared recently in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

Lead author Tamara Sims, PhD, a researcher at the Stanford Center on Longevity, admitted in a Stanford News story she was a bit skeptical when she kicked off the project:

Part of me wondered whether the use of technology would make much of a difference for this population because pervasive stereotypes characterize this age group as technologically inept, in addition to being physically and cognitively frail.

Instead, most of the 445 participants surveyed said they used at least one device regularly and that use boosted their physical and mental well-being. Here's Sims:

This group is viable for intervention... I don’t think many people are spending time thinking about it. The key here is that if you get them using these technologies, we could probably see some real benefits to quality of life in very old age.


We can’t say that using technology will directly improve the well-being of people over age 80... But our findings are suggestive of a viable pathway and may help to inform longitudinal interventions.

Previously: How can technology address the health needs of aging adults? A Medicine X panel offers tips and Stanford Biodesign focuses on innovation in aging
Photo by jcfrog

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