Sunday, 25 October 2015

Could Facebook be Used in the War on Dementia?

While social media is blamed for many of the society's ills, could it be used as a tool in the fight against memory loss and associated illnesses?

With dementia on the rise, people are looking for more innovative ways to help keep in touch with those who have been struck with the illness. Oddly, and perhaps without realising it, Facebook have supplied several features that may just help.

By 2025, over 52,000,000 people around the world will have been struck down by the disease and numbers are set to double every 20 years. With people moving abroad to work, marry and live, chances are many of these people will have some form of social media account.

Guardian Angels

In 2011, Facebook launched its “Trusted Friends” feature which allows users to nominate up to five friends to help them recover their account. Once a person discovers they can't log in, due to a forgotten or hacked password, codes are sent to the people they've nominated. These friends then give the codes to the affected person, allowing them to regain access to their account.

Facebook Phone Apps

The Facebook app for the iPhone is an easy and clean design with easily recognisable buttons for the newsfeed, groups, friends and settings. While the messenger button is a little more awkward to spot, the app is generally an easy one to use and allows a person to use all the functions of the desktop version.

Messenger Video and Voice Calling

Facebook has taken a leaf from Skype's book and introduced video and voice calling to its messenger. As long as the person is logged into messenger, a call is only a click away.

Reminiscence via Facebook

One of the beautiful things about social media is that it allows people to keep in touch with their interests. There's an abundance of pages dedicated to those born in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's with photo albums full of nostalgic images from the eras. Groups have been set up to promote everything from the year a person was born, to their school, former work places, and towns they've lived in.

Support and Friendship

In our busy world, people, especially those with an illness, can feel isolated. Social media offers ways to combat this with groups that allow people to connect with others like themselves. This may be through a shared interest or in finding others who have the same illness as themselves. Many of the groups are closed or secret groups giving users some confidentiality.

While the internet and social media should never be used to fully replace traditional face to face contact, it's a tool that can be used to fight that isolation that is often associated with memory problems.

As always, it's best to exercise caution while online. However, there's no reason why the internet and sites like Facebook can't be used to help those with diseases like dementia continue to live their lives to the fullest.

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