Technology can help reduce social isolation among seniors


By Michael E. Festa

Isolation — due to the death of a spouse, loss of friends and companions, and distance away from loved ones—puts millions of older Americans at risk of poor health and prolonged loneliness.

festaThe AARP Foundation reports that as many as 17 percent of older Americans are impacted by social isolation.  There are many reasons why someone age 50 and older becomes isolated from family and community: injury or illness, loss of independence or mobility, financial stress, or a job change. As such, it’s easy to become homebound, disconnected and isolated.

Most people value connections to family and friends, community, work and to organizations that appreciate their efforts and contributions. Those connections define who they are and what matters most to them. By helping them become more connected to their community, Internet activity can help ease feelings of depression and isolation among those 50 and older.

The 2013 AARP Attitude, Trend, & Opinion Monitor (ATOM) survey of the U.S. population age 50 and older found that:

•Mobile device usage among the 50+ population is 85 percent.

•Email, surfing websites, reading news and getting travel directions are the most common activities of age 50+ smartphone users.

•Three quarters (74 percent) of adults age 50+ own some type of computing device (desktop, laptop, e-reader, or tablet).

•Social-networking usage is reported by 52 percent of older adults.

•Privacy is a concern for many older adults. Only 17 percent of those age 50+ is very confidant that their data are kept private online.

Though the incidence of technology use is increasing in those 50 and older, millions of Americans who aren’t familiar with computer and online technology are still at risk of social isolation. If you would like to learn how to use a computer to stay better connected with your friends and family; use the Internet to obtain news and information; learn how to email; and help close the technology gap between you and your grandchildren, AARP has the program for you.

AARP TEK (Technology Education and Knowledge), is a comprehensive technology education program geared towards the 50+ audience. Though millions of older adults already use personal technology in their everyday lives, there are still many more who want to learn the ins and outs of using smartphones and tablets (i.e. iPad, etc.) to enhance their lives and discover a world of new possibilities. AARP TEK provides understandable training on how to use personal technology to live a better life.

Learn more about what AARP TEK can offer you by visiting, find out more about using tablets, social media, online safety, digital entertainment, and staying connected.

For more information, please contact AARP Massachusetts at 866-448-3621 or email at You may also visit our website at

Michael E. Festa is the state director of AARP Massachusetts, which represents more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the Bay State.  Connect with AARP Massachusetts online at; Like us at and follow us on