Study Finds Older People Who Frequently Use Online Communication Have Health Benefits
A recent study by the University of West London's Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory, and the University of Manchester, revealed that older people who frequently make use of technology for communication have a better ability to recollect meaningful events as there is no decline witnessed in their episodic memory. Titled as, 'Social Contact and 15-year Episodic Memory Trajectories in Older Adults with and Without Hearing Loss', the study focussed on the communication habits of around 11,000, 50 to 90 years old, men and women. "Frequent social contact benefits cognition in later life although evidence is lacking on the potential relevance of the modes chosen by older adults, including those living with hearing loss, for interacting with others in their social network", read the study.
A new revelation
As a part of the study, a total of 11,418 participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing provided baseline information on hearing status and social contact mode and frequency of use. Then, multilevel growth curve models were compared with episodic memory at baseline and longitudinally in participants who interacted frequently, compared to infrequently, with others in their social network. The study has been conducted over a period of fifteen years.
It was then concluded that frequent offline and combined offline and online social interactions predicted better episodic memory after adjustment for multiple confounders. The researchers observed positive, longitudinal associations between combined offline and online interactions and episodic memory in participants without hearing loss. However, this was not with strictly offline interactions.
In the case of hearing loss, episodic memory was positively related to both modes of engagement. As per the sensitivity analyses, the robustness of the findings were confirmed. The study also concluded that supplementing conventional social interactions with online communication modes may help older adults. This is especially for those living with hearing loss, sustain, and benefit cognitively from, personal relationships.