Social networking use among seniors nearly tripled in recent years

Technology has played an increasingly important role in senior living over the last several years. Whether it's smartphone apps reminding older adults when to take certain medications or sensors placed in the home to help monitor their movement, the latest gadgets are a vital part of life. This is also true when it comes to the latest Internet trends, and results from the ongoing Internet & American Life Project from the Pew Research Center found seniors are increasingly likely to use social networking websites.

The findings, culled from a survey of more than 2,200 adults, revealed that 43 percent of respondents 65 and older are on social networks compared to just 19 percent in 2009. While the younger population is still more likely to log on to Facebook or Twitter, the sharp increase of users in the senior population is indicative of the important role the Internet, and technology in general, plays in retirement.

"Today, social networking site use is a major activity for Internet users from a wide range of demographic groups," the firm said in a statement. "Younger adults are especially avid adopters, but social networking continues to grow in popularity for older adults as well."

Aside from helping seniors stay connected to friends and family, social networking sites may also play a role in healthy aging. A study from earlier this year by the University of Arizona found that seniors who log on to Facebook may be able to improve their cognitive function. The results, which were presented at the International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting, suggest that adults 65 and older who learned to use Facebook went on to perform about 25 percent better on memory tests.