Online Sharing Considerations for Elder Caregivers

Checking Facebook, updating Twitter, adding a quick blog. These tasks are becoming ubiquitous among all New Yorkers, including older residents. Social media is a critical part of many lives, and it is the primary way that some stay in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances. However, the medium has risen in popularity so quickly that many rules and customs about how to use these services have yet to develop. For that reason it is important to step back and ensure that you are following best practices when it comes to how you are sharing information via these web programs.

For example, last week Forbes published an interesting story that discusses some social media considerations unique to elder caregivers.

Most importantly, advocates are issuing a call for prudence and caution when posting information about the health and well-being of seniors. Privacy concerns should be considered carefully, particularly when discussing others who may not be able to consent to the information being made available to anyone online.

Unwanted Attention
The article authors explains the struggles she endured when others shared information about her father’s death online without her permission. She notes that within minutes of telling a friend about her father’s passing–while she was still in the very early stages of the grieving process–the friend made a comment about it on Facebook. That posting then spurred many other comments, private messages, and calls that only exacerbated the strain on the grieving daughter.

Of course there is a time and place for sharing sad news and healthcare updates. But in today’s hyper-connected world many fail to give careful thought to those details. This can lead to strained relationships and conflict. As the author explains, “All were well-meaning and sympathetic, but I could only feel anger at their intrusion, because at that moment, before I had even started grieving, my private pain had become public.”

To help others, three general “ground rules” are shared in the story that should guide elder caregivers and others in their social media etiquette. Those three rules are:

1) Before every post/message/tweet, remember that you may be speaking for others in addition to yourself.

2) Do not share information about others without their permission unless absolutely essential.

3) Consider whether your social media use is actually creating more isolation that eliminating.

The story extrapolates on these ideas, and so it it worth taking a look at the full story to learn more.

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