13. Older bloggers survey: using the results


OK, the analysis of the Older Bloggers Survey is done and dusted. My two hypotheses have been confirmed. But what shall we do with this information?

To summarise my conclusions, first, the vast majority of older bloggers do gain considerable mental, emotional and social benefits from blogging. The survey shows that this simple, low-cost or free process of publishing your personal thoughts to the world brings disproportionately large rewards. Moreover the benefits are precisely those that are lacking for thousands, maybe millions of old and isolated people. It’s not that every older person is a potential blogger, but blogging has the potential to enrich many lives, bringing happiness, stimulation and friendship. Anyone can blog, and the benefits are not related to standards of excellence, as far as I can tell.

  • Mental benefits: 75% of respondents agreed that blogging “gives me something new to think about”, and 19% made comments similar to these: “it keeps my mind active”, “challenges me to learn new things”, “sure gives the memory a workout” or “improves my analytical skills.”
  • Emotional benefits: 96% of respondents said they got a feeling of satisfaction and 80% said that blogging made them feel happy.
  • Social benefits: 70% agreed that blogging “gives me contact with the outside world” and 56% agreed that it helps them to feel they are not alone.  Numerous comments on many questions stressed the friendship and connections formed by blogging.

And secondly, a minority do have problems with usability and accessibility. No blogging platform so far has produced an ultra-simple, ultra-accessible model. WordPress is good, very good, but is this too much to ask?

  • Technical difficulties: 47% agreed that technical issues with a blog can be a challenge. About 20% of older bloggers had troubles with vision, hearing, energy, mobility or pain that impeded their blogging. In their comments, they stressed the need for visual accessibility.
  • Access to a computer: older people prefer to use a laptop or desk computer, rather then smartphones or tablets. A big barrier that was never mentioned in this online survey is that many people don’t have a computer or laptop and can’t get to one (in the library, for example).

What shall we do with this knowledge?

Do you believe that senior blogging could be promoted as a simple, almost-free solution to some of the social problems of the ageing population? If so, there is much we can do as individuals.


Where to start telling people about the benefits of senior blogging?

  1. Consider the isolated people in your own circle: is there anyone who might benefit from a demonstration, some encouragement and a little bit of help?
  2. Many groups already have a commitment to assisting old or lonely people in the community — for example churches, charitable organisations, veterans associations, and service organisations such as Rotary. Other groups such as SeniorNet have a commitment to helping older people improve their skills on computer and internet.
  3. Consider how blogging for seniors might fit in with the aims of your local U3A branch, community college, Mens’ Shed, book club, or women’s group.
  4. Take blogging to a local hospice, rest home or retirement village.
  5. Consider government (local and national) policies about ageing, and ask where best you can influence policy.

But what should we do?

The more the merrier. The more ideas, the more initiatives, the more clubs and classes and Meetups and strategies, the better. Before going much further, though, find a theme that is mobile-friendly, very easy to use, and highly accessible to people with (for example) poor sight. The choice of theme is the first overwhelming barrier that a rookie blogger must confront.

  1. Encourage older bloggers when they begin, now that you know more about their difficulties and the rewards of persevering. One reader has already begun doing this, after completing the survey.
  2. Maybe you are currently worrying about somebody in particular, someone who is lonely because of location or disability or simply age. Your auntie? Perhaps in their daily life there’s nobody with whom they can have a good conversation. That person might benefit from starting a blog and reading blogs, but they’ll never do it without your help.
  3. Give a presentation about blogging for seniors to your group or club or church, and see if you can start something. (Feel free to use any illustrations and facts from writeintolife.com).
  4. Offer a presentation about blogging for seniors to a different group or a conference or a Meetup.
  5. Write a submission to an appropriate group in government. (My first job is to write a submission for New Zealand’s new Positive Ageing Strategy.)
  6. Organise a class for senior bloggers.
  7. Start a regular Meetup for senior bloggers.
  8. Start a senior bloggers club. Set up a multi-author blog for this purpose.
  9. Organise a donation of desktop computers for residents’ use in a rest home. (They’re hard to steal compared with laptops.) Organise classes and support for bloggers in the rest home.

That wraps up the Older Bloggers Survey!

Whew! This is my final last report on our survey. I’m glad I reported question by question, because it helped me to understand more about this remarkable culture of older bloggers. The results were so overwhelmingly positive that I intend to take them into the wider world. Above all, I hope every person who reads this report is so energised by the older bloggers’ experiences, choices, and thoughts that they go and help one vulnerable person to start blogging. I hope too that the variety of experience revealed by this survey helps to bring even more kindness to the blogosphere of elders — where kindness already exists in abundance.

Please, please let me know about your own initiatives to spread the word about senior blogging! In case you hadn’t noticed, I am dead keen to hear about this. So far I have only heard of a single class for senior bloggers — in Queensland, and I have lost the reference.



40 thoughts on “13. Older bloggers survey: using the results

  1. Claudette says:

    Rachel, I have much to contribute here (although I’m not yet 50 and may not be in the bracket specifically addressed) but I do have empty nest followers on my blog so I have intentions. But, here in Canada we’re in the last stretch of summer vacation and until the school routine is back on track (might be mid September by then) I can’t begin or focus on anything. Plus our fridge died today and the second car is on its last legs and the boy started hockey season and baseball tryouts are in September and and and…

    I don’t have time to focus on what I want to focus on with this, and other similar posts you have published here. 😛

    So please, keep this in mind as you do your own thing, that I will not forget. And I will share your survey results as well as other ideas I have in good time.

    Thank you so much for your close attention to this! It’s been fantastic reading and understanding. I have, after all, parents who are technically involved (but not blogging) and they have friends, etc…


    1. This is great news, Claudette. No rush, these things take time, as we know. And I will be out of the loop myself for the next six weeks. Itseems perfect that you think first of your own parents.

  2. LA says:

    I think the people who would most benefit from blogging are quite resistant to technology. There are people who will not get cell phones, or people resistant to trying to do anything on computers. Those that are resistant to change are just that…resistant to change

    1. Maybe, and I am not advocating that we force anyone to blog! Gently Bentley, as we used to say.

      1. LA says:

        I think it’s a precarious thing….

      2. Take care.

    2. Claudette says:

      My mom was like that. But she reads blogs, and one day she realized there are comments…. that’s how it starts. She’s not blogging herself, but if she would want to, I’d help get her started. Right now, she’s a lurker, and occasionally emails me a comment. 😉

      1. LA says:

        The whole thing with blogging is, if you love it, it’s great. But, if you’re going to feel discouraged because you don’t know what to write, or don’t have an audience it becomes counterproductive. I used to read a blog by a woman who thought that as she turned 40 she would blog about it. The title was something like why did I start this thing, and needless to say, she didn’t last. And so many people are afraid of trolls, they don’t want to like or comment. Plus, it’s hard to find blogs to love, especially when older cause the market is saturated with younger people. I am very fortunate that I’ve found blogging friends in my age range

      2. Claudette says:

        I get it. I don’t push either. Some people really are afraid of the big, bad internet. Honestly, my whole initial intent was to stay in the loop so that I’m familiar once the kids start being on the web. I see so many parents that are clueless, and yet hand over technology their tweens and teens, and the stuff the kids do makes me cringe. I cringe bec I know stuff, and bec I know their parents don’t.

        Make sense?

        This should all change when I get past 60….🙃

      3. LA says:

        Totally understand. Kids are way too tech savvy. I started because I wanted to get some practice writing and blogging holds me accountable

      4. Claudette says:

        What I mean is, my dear friend Rachel, that maybe then I can blog about things beyond the endlessness that is parenting in the trenches….right? I mean most 60yos are more interesting and active than my peers simply because they have time to develop their own interests and identities…

      5. Yes yes yes, that will happen. I can speak from experience: children do grow up and become friends and you do emerge from the trenches. And your blog buddies have been ageing along with you, so it all works out perfectly.

  3. I think blogging is great for all ages. One thing I love about it is reading all sorts of blogs from a wide range of ages. We can learn so much from each other.

    1. Well said; naturally some of our needs change as we get older, which makes it all the more interesting.

  4. I feel like for me a Blog has the potential to be the new social hub. As a teenager in Austria, I loved the social value of the Gasthaus (something like a pub/restaurant/inn), where you would go to get the gossip, chat, make friends, eat and drink. It served a valuable social function. Living in a city in Australia, I don’t think there is quite the equivalent – commuting for 2 hours a day, the vast numbers of people, everyone being tired, busy, stressed. All these things conspire to make life surrounded by people quite isolating and lonely.

    So I feel like the blog community is the one place where I can catch up on the news, ideas, thoughts, gossip. It is the village and the Gasthaus. I wish that I could meet all the amazing people I chat to here, and whose blogs I read, in reality. I wish we could sit in the beer garden in the sun, or around a big oak table in a firelit room and chat and laugh and sing. But I’m so grateful we can do this online at least.

    Hopefully older users can help shape this, and provide their insights and energy. As my blog is about loss and grief, I am now keenly aware of how valuable our time together is, and am so delighted to have found these communities!

    1. I wish the same! You’re right, commuter life produces another kind of isolation. I do like your analogy of village and gasthaus. Thanks and good luck.

  5. Hmmmm… this gives me a lot to think about. We have a couple of “lifelong learning” organizations in our area. I bet an intro to blogging course would be popular.

    1. I reckon! Let us know how you get on.

  6. Rainee says:

    Hi Rachel, I wonder if it would be possible to get copies of your findings in electronic format? I am involved with the University of the Third Age – I did try to run a blogging course and there was much interest but most of the people were not familiar enough with computers so it was really difficult. I really liked your idea of a talk to Seniors about the benefits of blogging. Maybe that is a way for me to introduce the idea. My email is reoh@iinet.net.au if you would be willing to provide some data for me. I know I am being a bit lazy in that I can get it from your blog but ……

    1. Rainee, I like this idea and had thought of preparing a slideshow for people to use. I could also collate the articles into a pdf. Trouble is I am pressed for time, about to leave for an all-absorbing month in Seoul… Will see what I can do!

    2. And I called you Rainee! Do you answer to that?

    3. Lorraine, I’ve added a menu item to my blog: Older bloggers survey. From that page you can navigate to all the articles that discuss the survey results. This is preferable to getting the lot in a PDF, because it ensures you’ll always have the latest version, and you can download images for your own needs. I hope this helps.

      1. Rainee says:

        Hi Rachel, I definitely respond to Rainee. It is a childhood nickname. Thanks for your tip about the information and where to find it. It may become a project for me. I think it is so important to stay engaged as we get older and blogging can play a part in that. 🌹🌹🌹

      2. Fantastic! Please keep me posted, and good luck!

  7. Hi Rachel. I would like to thank you for the follow of my blog and I just read some of your posts, and WOW WOW WOW. I hope to learn more as I noticed that you originally clicked on my blog via my Senior Salon Silver Bloggers post. I truly hope that you will become a regular and if I may ask that you then promote this feature on your blog, as I think this will be great for your followers to also participate and share their stories weekly at the Senior Salon. Thanks in advance and I truly look forward to reading and sharing your posts weekly. Thanks again for the follow Rachel. EsmeSalon from the Senior Salon.

    1. Dear Esme, it’s lovely to hear from you, and thanks for your kind words and the invitation. I’m going to be mighty busy for the next couple of months but I’ll see what you’re doing and pop in sometimes. You are doing such good work with the Salon, right in line with my research too.

  8. hilarymb says:

    Hi Rachel – never got to comment on this one … but like the others … very interesting to read up. People don’t realise the benefits blogging can have … there’s a young friend (American, not English) who started blogging and it really helped him as he’d had a traumatic time … we stay in touch – he’s still recovering. He was advised by his doctor to perhaps start blogging as he enjoyed writing … he now knows he can … though has had some hard knocks in life. So young and old can benefit.

    Good luck and have fun with Korea – cheers Hilary

    1. How interesting. Doctor’s prescription! Thanks Hilary.

  9. Aunt Beulah says:

    I read and enjoyed all your posts on the blog survey today. thank you for generously and specifically detailing what you learned. I would have guesses your hypotheses would prove to be true, but not so overwhelmingly so. Thanks for the ideas for sharing blogging with other seniors who might be interested. I’m going to give it some thought. I know how to teach and put together a workshop, but I’d need someone to help me with the technology angle as my niece and her husband did with me. Good stuff, Rachel. I hope you learn and laugh and come back with lots to share from your writing venture.

    1. I’m glad that my posts triggered this idea that you are exploring. I hope you find a way to see it bear fruit. All best wishes, Janet!

  10. Sadje says:

    I love your ideas about teaching the older/ lonelier people about blogging. I have started blogging a couple of weeks ago and find it a very productive and diverting occupation. Find people to follow, and followers is a different cup of tea. But you have good ideas. Maybe will try to introduce someone who needs company to blogging.

    1. Great idea. If you start a real live local group you could learn together as you go. And have a starter kit for followers.

  11. olganm says:

    Great suggestions! I think many of the organizations you mention could set up blogs and people could contribute individual articles and reply to comments without having the hassle of having to set the whole thing up and dealing with the major technical issues if that encourages them…

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Absolutely. I am planning a pilot study this year.

  12. Hello Rachel. I tentatively started blogging yesterday. I reached my three score and ten a couple of weeks ago and decided to start something new. In fact, I want to find seventy ways to celebrate my positive ageing. I say tentatively, because I lost my first post before i could publish it! It’s in the ether somewhere. I tried again today and publish a short post privately. I fear the exposure of putting my thoughts “out there”. However, I’m happy to take baby-steps and eventually, who knows?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      This is such a good way to approach blogging! That’s the beauty of it: you can keep it to yourself until you’re ready, or forever. I am very keen to follow your seventy ways to celebrate this stage of life. Bring it on!

      1. I have finally started to publish my blog. I’m keeping it simple but I have come to realize that I am looking for the positives every day so that I can celebrate life at 70.

  13. Thanks for the words of encouragement.

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