Senior Living’s TikToks turn seniors into social media stars

  • Seniors’ residences use social media to document their hilarious and honest residents
  • Participating in social media trends could be good for seniors’ mental health, experts suggest.
  • Accounts are getting overwhelmingly positive feedback on TikTok, which helps residents feel engaged.

The antidote to the doom you scroll into oblivion?

TikTok for seniors.

Senior 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 how many such accounts exist, the #seniorliving hashtag has been used 103.6 million times and the #seniorlivingcommunity hashtag has been used 8.9 million times.

A popular senior living account is Allegria Senior Living, which is managed by Chana Lachman, regional director of public relations and branding for Allegria.

Lachman works out of Allegria Senior Living’s residence in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and collaborates with residents to produce and publish daily skits and clips. She attributes the overwhelmingly positive comments on their account to the fact that the residents themselves are unapologetic and genuine.

“They speak without censorship and from their hearts. Everyone [on TikTok] love this reality. They don’t put it on for the camera. It’s very pure,” she told Insider.

Lachman said Allegria residents were initially confused by the idea of ​​posting on 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’ve approached her about shooting strategy for the next video. (A video featuring volunteer residents has garnered nearly 2 million views.) Lachman believes it boosts their self-esteem and helps them feel connected to each other and the outside world.

“They love reading comments on viral videos,” she said.

A quick look at the overwhelmingly positive comments shows that these accounts may run counter to research that social media can worsen mental health. Many viewers cheer on the residents and laugh with them at their view of the trends. Staff members are also featured, and Lachman says the account even helped with employee morale.

Lachman says she thinks the account helps bridge the gap between residents and younger generations, whether they’re strangers or family members. “I believe it’s fighting against ageism,” she said.

Having hobbies helps older people, but privacy and consent are still key

“There is good research to suggest that social activities, such as a hobby or new activities, seem to be really beneficial for older people,” said Brenna Renn, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas which specializes in behavioral interventions for the elderly. Renn told Insider that developing hobbies — whether it’s puzzles, pottery or posting on TikTok — “can reduce dementia risk, depression risk, and preserve cognitive health.”

She added that staying physically, socially and mentally active as you age can protect or prevent decline – and staying active on social media could potentially help.

However, Renn said privacy can be a concern when talking about older people posting on social platforms — and consent is crucial.

“You need residents to really understand how their image can be used and disseminated on the internet,” she said.

Renn added that there has not yet been enough scientific research to prove that social media has a positive effect on older adults. “We don’t really know from a research perspective whether social media has beneficial effects on older adults or is detrimental,” she said. She stressed that research is needed to understand the potential consequences and whether the perceived benefits hold for all groups of older adults.

But Lachman only sees the positive. “We’re on the good side of TikTok,” she said. “We get to spread the love.”

Helen J. Jimenez