Caregivers of Older Adults: Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet-based Social Support*

Authors

  • Jan Colvin,

    Corresponding author
      **Dr. Jan Colvin, School of Human Ecology, Louisiana Tech University, P. O. Box 3167, Ruston, LA 71272 (colvinj@ans.latech.edu).
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  • Lillian Chenoweth,

  • Mary Bold,

  • Cheryl Harding


  • *

    Preparation of this manuscript was partially supported by a Writing Fellowship from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

**Dr. Jan Colvin, School of Human Ecology, Louisiana Tech University, P. O. Box 3167, Ruston, LA 71272 (colvinj@ans.latech.edu).

Abstract

We explored the perceptions of caregivers of older adults using Internet-based social support networks regarding the unique advantages and disadvantages of online social support. Participants were recruited with permission of Web owners through 15 Web sites that offered social networks, and responses from 63 electronically submitted surveys were analyzed qualitatively. Two major advantages of online social support were attributes of computer-mediated communication (CMC)(anonymity, asynchrony, and ability to personalize use) and connectivity (connecting with other caregivers). Disadvantages included limitations of CMC and complaints with CMC. Findings suggest that Internet use may be a potential resource for caregivers in expanding their status-similar social support networks.

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