Internet use 'can help to protect against dementia' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

New research has suggested internet use can help protect elderly people from dementia.

An eight-year study, the results of which have been published in the Journal of Gerontology, found 50 to 90-year-olds who regularly log on to the web tend to undergo less mental decline than their counterparts who do not.

Of the 6,500 individuals studied, those that used the internet were found to have undergone a significant improvement in delayed recall over time intervals.

As a result of this study, London Bridge Hospital and Adblock Plus have joined forces to call for the UK's elderly population to able to experience the benefits of the web.

Ben Williams, head of operations at Adblock Plus - which filters and blocks online adverts, stated: "Everyone in society - those both young and old - should be able to use the internet to stay in touch with others, for instance by sharing photos on social media with more distant family, and catching up with old friends."

"Any communication, whether it be face-to-face or digital, enables people to feel connected, and basic digital skills give people this opportunity," he added.

Dr Tom Stevens, a consultant psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital, said people over the age of 65 need to remember to "use it or lose it" when it comes to mental capacity.

He said the internet represents an ideal means of achieving this, as it allows older people to stay connected with others, regardless of any disabilities they may have.

In May, a report from think tank the Policy Exchange claimed the internet can be a useful tool in helping the elderly to overcome loneliness. The organisation called for older people to be shown how to use the web and complete basic tasks such as sending emails and using social networks like Facebook.

The Policy Exchange said the cost of this would be £875 million, which is approximately £140 per person. However, it claimed getting elderly people connected would deliver wide-reaching social and economic benefits in return.