An online platform created for retirees, by retirees, is raising awareness of the importance of digital communications in tackling the increasing decline in mental health across the world.
The founder of 4Retirees, a fully interactive online community where older people can meet new friends and participate in interesting and engaging discussion, is speaking out during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week to inspire action at a time when social isolation, social distancing, and ‘stay at home’ recommendations are significantly minimising human contact and interactions for older people.
While awareness of mental health has been increasing in recent years, there are growing concerns that the current situation created by the COVID-19 outbreak could be driving rapid decline in emotional well-being.
‘Focus right now is very firmly on the protection of physical health, which means that it’s up to us to make sure we’re doing what we can to support mental health,’ says 4Retirees Founder, Magdalena Kusyk. ‘Digital interactions to tackle loneliness amongst the most vulnerable are emerging as one of the most effective ways to boost social contact during the lockdown, and Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect time to get online.’
Although a lack of digital skills among older people has long been cited as an obstacle in getting more people online, the UK’s Office for National Statistics suggests that internet use amongst retirees is at an all time high. Use among 65–74 year olds grew by 28% between 2011 and 2018, while internet use among those aged 75 and over grew by 24% during the same period.
During this challenging time, Kusyk is urging older people to get involved in the free 4Retirees community, where retirees can meet like minded people from around the world who are facing the same challenges created by social isolation and social distancing.
In a bid to make it easier to settle into the online community, 4Retirees is currently holding twice weekly hosted video catch-ups, helping to build new relationships between members. Members can also participate in the once-a-month global online party, or simply use the platform to chat with others, and get to know new people.
Along with social connections, 4Retirees hosts free webinars where older people can learn new skills, including digital literacy which can help them make better use of devices, and reach out to ‘real life’ friends and family members using online tools. The digital academy is also a great place to learn new hobbies, with courses that can be followed at a convenient pace.
4Retirees is free to join, with basic membership offering access to online courses, community newsletters, social media groups, and articles for insightful reads. With paid membership, members can also connect directly with others, make new friends, take part in community discussions, and more.