Let’s talk social isolation.
Have you heard of the French adventurer and scientist Michel Siffre? Back in 1972, he shut himself away for more than SIX MONTHS in a Texas cave – one of the longest self-isolation experiments in history!
As reported in thescientest.com, “Meticulously documenting the effects on his mind over those 205 days, Siffre wrote that he could “barely string thoughts” together after a couple months. By the five-month mark, he was reportedly so desperate for company that he tried (unsuccessfully) to befriend a mouse. This kind of experiment, and less extreme isolation periods such as those experienced by spaceship crews or scientists working in remote Antarctic research stations, has offered glimpses of some of the cognitive and mental effects of sensory and social deprivation. People routinely report confusion, changes in personality, and episodes of anxiety and depression.”
Covid-19, with shut-downs and self-isolation and six-feet apart, has really knocked some of us for six. Social isolation, and the very harmful cognitive effects of same is a very real concern at the moment.
The 4AM Report and Keeping the ‘Over 50’ Set Socially Connected
Yes, some of us thrive by having “alone time.” And some of you – juggling work, family, kids, pets, you name it – 24/7 these past 6 months – might gnaw your right arm off for a little “social isolation.” 😆🤣😆
But long-term social isolation – especially in seniors – can have seriously deleterious results.
· Cognitive decline and dementia.
· Increased risk of mortality.
And with a quarter of Canadian seniors living alone – that’s not great news. 😢😢😢
When this week’s 4AM Report guest began to worry about her own mom’s dwindling network of friends and contacts – she did what any self-respecting entrepreneur would do – she founded a tech company to help!
We are SO HERE for this! 🎉💫👏❤️ (*whispers* We’re next, y’all!)
Ageism occurs in MOST areas of life, but especially in the tech field.
As a recent CBC.ca article reports, “The reality is, ageism is still alive and well,” said Marissa Lennox, director of Stakeholder Relations for CARP (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons). Lennox said pervasive workplace biases are based on perceptions from over a dozen years ago, when digital tools were less user-friendly, and that “there is no evidence that the older audience is less tech-savvy.”
It’s a fantastic interview, and with 75% of older adults actively online, it’s also a kick in the pants for marketers and the like, who often forget about an entire segment of the population.
The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness
“A lot of people don’t realize the health implications, and the consequences of social isolation and loneliness. It increases the mortality rate by 30%. It increases the risk of dementia by 50%, stroke by 32%. The impact on our health care system to the tune of $117 billion spent on older adults And then there are the caregivers out there, the informal caregivers who are us, the adult children, who could be helping parents by making a phone call and checking in once a week, or swinging by and dropping the groceries off, or more extensive caring. They suffer from caregiver burnout, because that’s an allocated period of time in the day in the week, tacked on to their careers and their jobs and raising their children. Most of them are part of the sandwich generation. And what has happened in recent months with COVID-19 is it’s put social isolation and loneliness on the map for everybody. And with that, I think, empathy and a realization that while many of us are experiencing it right now, as a result of this pandemic and COVID-19 it will be temporary. However, there are many millions of members of our population and our communities for which if nothing is being done about it, it’s a permanent reality.”
Tech-Savvy Seniors are Doin’ it for Themselves!
“It’s an inaccurate perception that older adults are not texting or aren’t online. I’ve had countless conversations on this subject since starting out the path of creating [this app]. And they are actually the fastest growing segment of internet users! 75% of older adults connect to the internet through devices. And 75% have downloaded apps. So, they are very much active and engaged. They were using social media to stay connected [with friends], using it to stay connected with family, prior to COVID, and it has become even more so important to do so. And what has happened is COVID has, quite frankly, forced or inspired or motivated those who were perhaps not the early adopters. There are those who need a lot of evidence before they make that purchase. Covid-19 has inspired them to get on board and embrace technology for their wellbeing, because we don’t know how long this is going to last. And we’re going to be in this world of, you know, Bubbles and socially distancing and doing everything we need to do to remain safe. Right? I think we’re going to see large numbers and spikes in the data when it comes to technology adoption, particularly with the older adults. So, you know, the seniors perhaps in their 80s. Maybe the 84 year old grandmother or grandfather historically haven’t. But I’ll tell you, the kids and the grandchildren are making sure that they do have a tablet, they do have a smartphone, because of what has been going on with the pandemic, and not being able to go and visit grandma or grandpa!”
Marketers, Get Thee Heads Out of Thee A**es!!
“I think historically when we look at marketing and quite frankly, Hollywood and how Hollywood presents the image of an older individual – to me it’s a caricature. Age to me? Absolutely irrelevant. It is our mentality, it is our wellness, it is our spirit. And I think that, you know, we as a society have done a disservice to the aging experience, you know, the anti-aging industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry. And I argue ‘What the hell is wrong with aging?’ My father didn’t make it past the age of 56, he would have loved to have made it to 76! The reality is that baby-boomers and seniors, number one, own 80% of the wealth in our financial institutions. They represent 55% of the nation’s discretionary spending power, annual expenditure online. How do I want to be treated when I’m in my 60s and when I’m in my 70s and when I’m in my 80s? I don’t want to be treated like I am invisible! I have a voice, I have an opinion. And I have a plethora – at that point – of life experiences and knowledge. And I think what we tend to forget is that with every year that we are older, represents a year of more knowledge, more experiences, I mean, the skills and the talent pool of older adults and the knowledge that they have!”
“There’s a huge marketing opportunity. You know, the baby boomer generation, it’s a 20-year period, where you have individuals hitting the age of 65. We’re just a few years into baby boomer, the first crew of the baby boomers hitting 65. We’ve got another 14 or 15 years till the last baby boomer age hits 65. And then what? You have another 20-year period now of 65 to 85-year-olds! And we’re living longer. We’re living better. We’re not retiring at 65. It’s not necessarily because of financial [reasons] (though that is a factor for many), but because they want to maintain their sense of purpose, they’ve got more to give, they have more to do. Like they’re not retiring and fiddling out their retirement planning. They’re traveling, they’re living the life of Riley, they’re having, you know, wonderful experiences. And quite frankly, as the daughter that I am, I want my mom to have the same thing!”
That’s just a snapshot of what we discussed in this episode – take a moment and listen to the entire thing if you can! And you can find us on Apple Podcasts – subscribe to us – you won’t regret it!
Plus, if you’re losing sleep over a particular marketing/business related problem during this Covid-19 economic uncertainty, or if you have a guest idea on the topic, let us know. Drop us a line at c+p dgital.
And as always, sweet dreams…well, hopefully!