Professional case managers advocate patient access to necessary and appropriate services, while educating the patient and family and/or caregiver about resource availability within practice settings. The purpose of this article is to explain the role case managers can have to promote the use of social media by the elderly, as a means to decrease their loneliness and isolation.
The promotion of the use of social media will take place in the community setting, involving willing and competent elderly patients who live alone. It is framed as one strategy to help combat loneliness. The primary target audiences for this initiative are case managers who work in the community, as they are the ones who have contact with this population. However, hospital case managers could also benefit, as they need to be aware of ways to help discharged elderly patients feel more connected to their community; the use of social media is one way to achieve this outcome.
The elderly population experience changes brought on by their longer life. One of those changes or undesirable effects is an increase in social isolation and experiencing loneliness. There are many factors that contribute to loneliness and social isolation in the elderly such as a change in financial situations, death, divorce, or migration. Utilizing the capabilities of the internet, coupled with the use of social media (e.g., Facebook), can facilitate opening up a virtual world where the elderly can communicate with family and friends, make new friends, or occupy their time with the many interactive games that are available online.
Case managers should increase their awareness to identify patients who are socially isolated; the outcome is to decrease the risk of developing a major depressive disorder. Community case managers might at times be the only professional health care givers who are visiting patients in their home; therefore, they should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression so they can encourage patients to get the necessary help needed as soon as possible. This article identifies key case management strategies to promote the use of social media by isolated elderly clients that include assessment of their learning needs and capabilities, devising a plan of action, implementation of technology, and evaluation and follow-up of the implementation.
Ilham Hashi, RN, MN, has been a registered nurse for 14 years, and a case manager for 6 years in both the hospital and community settings in Toronto, Canada. She is currently working on Case Management program development at Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha, Qatar.
Address correspondence to Ilham Hashi, RN, MN, Sidra Medical and Research Centre, Doha, 26999, Qatar (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The author reports no conflicts of interest.