Living with Dementia: Using Social Media to Cope with Dementia
I love Facebook! Many people, I know, will not agree with me. My sister is one. However, I theorize that these people, these naysayers, have not actually USED Facebook. They, instead, rely on news reportings detailing the problems that Facebook can cause: lack of privacy, etc. I want to relate to you my findings about Facebook and how it can be of value to those of us with dementia. (or, for that matter, for anyone!)
Facebook allows me to keep up with my friends and family, as well as former students. And, it has the added benefit of being able to “chat” live (in the moment) with anyone listed as my friend on Facebook who is signed in at the same time that I am.
I have written conversations with my sister-in-law, whom I don’t see very often. It’s the next best thing to actually “being there”. Since my brother’s death, she has moved and is getting on with her life. It is important to me that she remain a part of my family as I love her like a sister. Facebook affords me the opportunity to converse with her frequently, as well as keeps me abreast of what she’s doing and thinking, in the meantime. I also “chat” with long lost friends, young nieces/nephews, and former colleagues.
My dad had eleven brothers and sisters, so you can imagine how many cousins I have. Many, thankfully, have their own Facebook accounts, so I can keep up with them regularly. Unfortunately, I find that most of the cousins my age or older, do not use Facebook. Computers, for most of them, were not introduced when they were younger. I, myself, have five siblings and copious nieces and nephews. This is where I really have most of my “friends” on Facebook. I regularly communicate with many of my nieces and nephews, from the ages of 10 and older. By keeping in contact with them, I remain a part of their lives and they mine. I sometimes think I am viewed as “that cool old aunt” or looked upon as being a bit crazy, but still alright! I think continuing to be involved with their lives keeps me involved in life. And, that is a good thing for anyone with dementia!
Keeping in touch with former students has never been easier. It is quite satisfying to know that they are growing into such fine adults. I can’t tell you the joy I feel at watching them growing their own families! And, it is great fun to add a comment here and there to let them know I still think about them!
The one problem I see with suggesting that those of us with dementia use Facebook as a way to keep in touch with others, thus involving us more in life, is that those of us over the age of, say, 55, were not introduced to computers at an early age. Sure, if we worked a job where we were forced to use computers in our adulthood, we would be more inclined to try using Facebook. Those younger people were put on a computer very early in their lives and so using one is second nature to them. We, of the older generations, may not feel as comfortable, and those of us with dementia may have a more difficult time learning to use one.
If someone with dementia, who is functioning pretty highly, and who knows how to use a computer would try using Facebook, their entire world would broaden. By keeping in touch with others, by using those written communication skills, one can become more fully involved with those they love. I truly value the benefits I think using Facebook affords me. Let me know what you think!