Senior Citizens Say Technology Helps Them Stay Connected and Happy

PHOTO: A new survey shows seniors value connectivity and those who feel less isolated are less likely to think their health will deteriorate.

Sam Diephuis/Getty Images

Technology isn't just for young people; it's also changing the way senior citizens age.

You already like to go online to find out what time that movie starts and email your friends about that upcoming lunch date. According to a new survey, so does your grandma.

Snapchat may be pushing it for the 60+ crowd, but the vast majority of seniors say technology helps them stay connected to the world around them.

More than a quarter of seniors also say they use sites like Facebook and Twitter to stay connected, according to the study sponsored by the National Council on Aging. They text and shop online, too.

That makes a lot of sense since everything from making restaurant reservations to medical appointments has shifted online in recent years. Young people aren't the only ones who have kept up.

You might groan every time you see that friend request from your great uncle languishing in your inbox, but seniors say that connectivity makes them happy. Four out of 10 seniors named staying connected with friends and family as the most important way to maintain a high quality of life in their senior years, ahead of having financial means.

Seniors who feel isolated are more likely to think their health will get worse. About a third of isolated seniors say their health will get worse, compared with less than a quarter of all seniors.

So what about young people? We use sites like Facebook and Twitter for many of the same reasons. We like being connected. And that could become even more of a lifeline as we age.

That's because the survey indicates we're not all that confident about things many current seniors rely on, like Social Security. We are less likely to think our cities are prepared to handle us as senior citizens when it comes to things like transportation and affordable housing. If we don't feel like we'll be able to get to a recreation center to meet up with friends, social networking could become critically important to our happiness.

Younger Americans today also feel less financially secure.

Half of today's seniors have access to pensions, and more than 40 percent of seniors who haven't retired yet say they're planning to rely on Social Security as their main income once they stop working.

But people who are 18-59 today aren't banking on it. Fewer than a quarter said they're planning to rely on Social Security. Half said they're going to live off personal savings and investments.

That could be tricky, though, because younger Americans today are having a harder time covering their expenses than older, retired Americans.

Two-thirds of seniors right now say it's easy to pay their monthly expenses, but that drops to about half when you look at people under 60. If you can't cover your expenses now, you're not saving. That has powerful implications when it comes to your quality of life after you stop working. Especially if you're not going to be able to rely on something like Social Security.

It's no surprise then that American adults who are not yet seniors are less likely than current seniors to say they're very confident about maintaining a high quality of life. While both current seniors and younger generations say their situation is far from perfect, people of all ages think they've got it better than younger generations when it comes to aging.

Do you think social media will help you stay connected as you age?

The United States of Aging Survey is an annual survey conducted in partnership by the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA TODAY.

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The intersection of health and tech is essential to our modern lives. This is how this it shapes us on the inside and out.

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