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The Internet: An antidepressant for seniors?

June 10, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Using the Internet can help older adults (55 and older) maintain a positive outlook and the activity helps to combat depression, which can translate into healthcare savings in the treatment of depression. A new study, revisits a 2009 study using data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study.

The study’s lead author, George S. Ford, PhD, chief economist at the Phoenix Center, and his research team found that four years later 34 percent of the study participants experienced reduced symptoms of depression compared with 20-28 percent at the time of the original report.

In the study, Ford cites the cost of depression as approximately $100 billion annually. Encouraging policies to increase the use and familiarity of the Internet to seniors, significant cost savings can be realized.

“As before, our research indicates that expanded broadband use by older Americans has benefits. The positive mental health consequences of Internet use demonstrate, in part, the value of demand stimulus programs aimed at older Americans,” says Ford.