Though technology may be dominated by younger generations, Cindy Mund knows the internet and social media have power with senior citizens.
Mund, a resident consultant for Stillwaters Estates, has found a large following in a blog she writes for the senior living community in Centralia. When she started the blog seven years ago, she had a list of about 75 subscribers. Today, that list is about 150 to 200 of the estimated 300 total Stillwaters residents. What’s more, she said she often hears from people who are considering moving to Stillwaters that they have read her blog.
“I’ll have people who come in and say, ‘You’re the one who writes the blog?’” Mund said. “So, we have people who go to the website and they read it.”
According to the National Council on Aging, 10,000 Americans turn 65 daily, and the most recent United States of Aging Survey noted that seniors are actually one of the fastest growing segments of social media consumers. Just 10 years ago, only about 2 to 3 percent of older Americans used social media of any type. Today the Pew Research Center estimates about 34 percent of seniors use some sort of social media platform.
While Mund has found a great number of seniors will read her blog, she is actually a minority when it comes to actual bloggers. Because of the sometimes-transient nature of blogs, it is hard to know exactly how many active blogs exist today, but it is estimated there are hundreds of millions of them. Bloggers who are older than 50 make up less than 10 percent of the blogs available today. A little more than half of blogs are written by people ages 21-35 with those younger than 20 making up about 20 percent and those 36-50 another 20 percent.
Mund actually began blogging in the late 1990s. She said she used the technology for her career at the Department of Social and Health Services and also kept a personal blog so she and her husband could share their travels with friends and family.
“The movie ‘Julie and Julia’ always intrigued me,” Mund said. “I read a lot of pages online. I read a lot of books about it. All of the things led me to what I’m doing now.”
Mund began working for Stillwaters seven years ago as a resident consultant. Her job entails working with residents of the community of apartments, houses and assisted living for those age 50 and older. Mund is also a Realtor and works with prospective residents to help them look at homes and lots for sale in the community. She said the Stillwaters blog began through a discussion about how to market Stillwaters.
“It’s a neighborhood where we have homes for sale and we’re also building new homes so I thought of it as a way to talk about life at Stillwaters and what it is like,” Mund said.
Though she already was comfortable with technology, Mund said before she could begin the blog, she had to first brush up on the software and technology. She said she started simply with the easiest resource possible: Google.
“The internet is a great place to start,” Mund said. “You can type in ‘how to write a blog’ and you get all kinds of advice.”
She said she found a lot of free resources, first through Timberland Regional Library and also through tutorials provided with WordPress, which is the online content management system she uses for the blog.
“I don’t think it’s all very hard to do you just need to pay attention to directions,” Mund said. “You don’t have to know coding to do this.”
No matter the subject matter, Mund said a blog can be a great way for seniors to connect with friends and family and stay active. She said her first piece of advice for would-be bloggers is to keep blog entries simple, quick and short. She said she shoots for entries to include an eye-catching photo along with just a few short paragraphs.
“Keep it focused on what your goal is,” Mund said.
Second, Mund said she feels it is important for bloggers to plan ahead and maintain their content. She said she hears often of people who start blogs and write a few entries but then leave long gaps between posts. Regular blog posts mean readers will keep checking in with you, whereas old, stale content could drive them away. Mund said she probably only spends about one to two hours each week on her blog, which includes brainstorming topics to talk about and walking the Stillwaters neighborhood in search of photos.
“I think it’s important to do it every single week,” Mund said
And when it comes to what exactly to write about, Mund said bloggers should always think about their intended audience. For example, Mund said her blog is meant to be both a way for Stillwaters residents to connect but also to share a slice of the community’s life with outsiders. Since her readers are likely ages 50 and older, Mund said she likes to talk about things that seniors would be interested in. For instance, downsizing is one subject Mund revisits often because it is an important and relevant to many seniors.
“Downsizing is emotionally hard, it’s physically hard and sometimes it’s just hard to know where to start,” she said.