According to research, video chats with family and friends can fight off depression. Good news right!
The study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, used data from the National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study, which surveys older Americans every two years. Researchers looked at Americans age 60 and up who used four kinds of communication technologies — video chat, email, social media networks like Facebook and instant messaging. Then, they examined their symptoms of depression two years later.
Researchers found that older adults who connected with their loved ones through email exchanges, Facebook posts or instant messaging sessions had about the same rate of depression compared to those who did not. By contrast, those who communicated through video chat cut their probability of depression by nearly half.
The study also shows that depression and social isolation can be problems for older adults. While the majority are not depressed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates can rise as high as about 12% for those who are hospitalized and 14% for those who need home health care. And as many as 32% of people older than 55 feel lonely, according to the National Institutes of Health. Both depression and loneliness can have consequences beyond feeling blue and include links to poorer physical health and a shortened lifespan.
4 Ways to Incorporate More Video Chats Into Your Life
Here are four tips on how to see your loved ones’ faces more often:
Get familiar with the technology. If you’re not sure how to use video chat, Teo said, figure out the barriers and get help. You also could sign up for a technology class or search online for tutorials.
Switch it up. Daily or weekly video chats may need to be scheduled, but not every session has to be on the calendar. Take the initiative to add more virtual face-to-face chats to your daily life.
Look in their eyes. During a video chat, make the effort to appear to be looking at the other person. That means you’ll need to look directly into the tiny video camera at the top of the screen from time to time instead of the screen where your family member’s face is. It’s an important way to help build rapport during your conversation.
Still get together. Video chat and other forms of online communications should never replace your in-person get-togethers, where you can hug and hold and be present with the ones you love.