- Senior living facilities are using social media to document their hilarious and honest residents
- Participating in social media trends might be good for seniors’ mental health, experts suggest.
- The accounts receive overwhelmingly positive feedback on TikTok, which helps residents feel engaged.
The antidote to doom-scrolling yourself into oblivion?
Senior living TikTok.
Senior living accounts on TikTok allow people who live in assisted living facilities to share their knowledge, experience, and humor with the world. While it’s unclear just how many of these accounts exist, the hashtag #seniorliving has been used 103.6 million times, and the hashtag #seniorlivingcommunity has been used 8.9 million times.
One popular senior living account is Allegria Senior Living, which is run by Chana Lachman, Allegria’s regional director of public relations and branding.
Lachman works out of Allegria Senior Living’s residence in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and collaborates with residents to produce and post daily short skits and clips. She attributes the overwhelmingly positive feedback on their account to the residents being their unapologetic and authentic selves.
“They talk uncensored and from their hearts. Everyone [on TikTok] likes that realness. They’re not putting it on for the camera. It’s very pure,” she told Insider.
Lachman said Allegria’s residents were initially confused by the idea of posting to TikTok, but eager and excited to learn. Now, after running the account for the past two years, she knows who her superstars are, and they approach her about strategy for filming the next video. (One video featuring willing residents raked in close to 2 million views.) Lachman believes that it builds their self-esteem and helps them feel connected to each other and the outside world.
“They love to read the comments on the viral videos,” she said.
A quick look at the overwhelmingly positive comments shows that these accounts may buck the research that says social media can be aggravating to mental health. Many viewers cheer residents on and laugh with them at their take on trends. Staff members are also featured, and Lachman says the account has even helped with employee morale.
Lachman says she believes the account is helping to bridge a gap between the residents and younger generations, whether it be strangers or family members. “I believe it’s fighting ageism,” she said.
Having hobbies helps older adults, but privacy and consent are still key
“There is good research to suggest that social activities, such as a hobby or engaging in new pursuits, does seem to be really beneficial to older adults,” said Brenna Renn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who specializes in behavioral interventions for older adults. Renn told Insider developing hobbies — be it puzzles, pottery, or posting to TikTok — “can reduce the risk for dementia, the risk for depression, and preserve cognitive health.”
She added that staying physically, socially, and mentally active as you age may protect against or forestall decline — and that staying active on social media could potentially help.
However, Renn said that privacy can be a concern when talking about older people posting to social platforms — and consent is crucial.
“You need residents to really understand how their likeness may be used and distributed on the internet,” she said.
Renn added that there hasn’t been enough scientific research yet to prove that social media positively effects older adults. “We don’t really know from a research perspective whether social media has beneficial effects on older adults or if it’s detrimental,” she said. She stressed that research is needed to understand the potential consequences, and if the perceived benefits hold for all older adult groups.
But Lachman only sees the positives. “We’re on the happy side of TikTok,” she said. ‘We get to spread love.”