According to a new study, spending time online can make drastically reduce depression rates in retirees, especially the ones who live alone.  In the article, authors describe that Internet use reduced the probability of a depressed state by 33 percent for retirees.

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Late life depression is a major problem, affecting some 10 million people in the US alone (the study was conducted on Americans alone). The new study showed that the internet allows them to overcome the social and spatial boundaries which are believed to lie at the basis of elderly depression.

“Retired persons are a population of interest, particularly because one mechanism by which Internet use may affect depression is to counter the effects of isolation and loneliness, which are more common among older adults,” the authors stated. “Also, working individuals may be required to use the Internet rather than choosing to, and may use the technology for different reasons than those not working.”

They surveyed 3,075 community-dwelling respondents observed over 4 waves of data, from 2002 to 2008, yielding a total of 12,300 observations. After they compensated for all other factors, the results were pretty clear.

“Number of people in the household partially mediates this relationship, with the reduction in depression largest for people living alone,” the authors wrote. “This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness. Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation, loneliness, and depression.”

Personally, I find this extremely easy to understand. Most retirees, especially if they live alone… well, they feel alone. If you spend time online, you not only keep yourself occupied with whatever you want, but you can be more in touch with your relatives or friends, surpassing the geographical distances.

So, if your elder loved ones aren’t using a computer yet – teach them to do it. It will work wonders.

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