Facebook cheers up nursing homes

PerryMarketing Blog26 Comments

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Yesterday I heard from a very reliable source that Facebook has triggered a sea change in the nursing home industry. This comes from a client of one of my business mentors.

The #1 reason people die is their friends have died or been dispersed to the four winds; their family doesn’t visit them anymore, and they have no more reason to get up in the morning. I’m sure all of us have visited long-term care facilities and seen the blank stares and hopelessness of aged people living out their last days.

Facebook has changed that. There are many, many 77 year old folks in nursing homes who now have 60 Facebook friends and interact with them on an hourly basis. This is literally extending life spans – to the point of wreaking havoc in the long-term care industry.

This is because many of the payment models are based on people living only so long and their communities on Facebook are literally extending their lives.

(It’s also creating some interesting social gaffes. Like after a person dies, their friends are still getting reminders: “You haven’t reached out to Ethel for awhile. Send her a note. Click here to POKE Ethel.”)

"So many options for growing my business, but what should I do NOW?" Tell me your most pressing business problems and I'll show you your BEST next step.

It’s also obliterating illiteracy. Kids might be able to fake reading books in school, but they can’t fake writing comments on their friends’ pages. I seriously believe that within 5 years, nearly every single kid in the developed world will be able to read, write and type – because of Facebook.

Within 10 years, the same will be true in developing countries – because of mobile phones. Yesterday I saw a video of men with pickaxes in Rwanda digging 6 foot trenches for fiber optic cable. Rwanda is rapidly becoming the most wired country in Africa.

To hard-core, driven business types, Facebook might seem like a toy. That’s what most people thought about the Internet 10-12 years ago. It turned out to be something much bigger than that, didn’t it?

I don’t know if Facebook is a perfect fit for your business or not, but if you haven’t taken our self-evaluation you might want to do that right now. It literally takes 60 seconds and you can do it at www.IsFBForMe.com.

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

26 Comments on “Facebook cheers up nursing homes”

  1. I’ve been thinking about new ways to minister the Good News, cheer and energy of Jesus Christ to nursing home bound seniors; by jove, I think you’ve got it Watson!

  2. Hello, and thank you for your excellent emails :-) That is very true what you said. There is a cool old lady on twitter, and she is 104 years old. Her name on twitter is IvyBean104. She has 54,320 followers because she is so cool. Imagine how lonely her life might be if she did not have twitter. Thanks heaps for your posts old age is nothing to fear like it used to be, When I am 100 I’ll still be partying on webinars with all the other old internet marketing folks out there. Have an excellent day :-) Kind Regards, from Christina :-)

  3. This reminds me of why I first wanted to go back to school (late 1990s) to learn about this new thing called “e-commerce” and about all the great times I had those first couple of years helping grandma’s and grandpa’s with their email and connection problems so that they could get the latest picture or email from their familes. Amazing times we live in.
    Thanks Perry!

  4. Just wondering about some of the assumptions in your article. I believe that many 3rd world countries have high literacy rates. Maybe you are referring to literacy in English specifically. Those countries (like many nations in Africa)with low literacy rates also have low internet penetration rates. This is has more to do with the state of the individual country rather than FB.

    Marte’s point is also valid. In general, you can identify a person’s age on FB by the way they write. Seems like those born after the 80’s use abbreviations heavily. Those born before 1980 spell whole words out. Not sure if has a positive or negative impact on society.

    Another trend is the rise of addiction to online gaming. People who previously were not into online games are now spending the majority of time on online games.

    I guess the point is that not all the effects of Fb are positive. In the end, what you get out of Fb has a lot to do with the friends you keep. Wait-a-minute, isn’t that the same with real life… Lol!

  5. Great story Perry, although I’m not so sure about kids becoming more literate. I just had a conversation this afternoon with a lady who said it drove her nuts that when her kids write her they use the texting/ Twitter abbreviations. It’s not “for you” any more, it’s “4U”

    I can see how Facebook could be a life-giving toy for anyone who is “stuck” by themselves somewhere. The opportunity to find old friends and to stay in touch with family members who live far away has to give people a better reason to get up in the morning than a TV show – or even a visit from a well-meaning stranger.

  6. Your article is very timely.

    Just today I was visiting my grandfather at the nursing home. He recently had a stroke and has very little time to live, but he has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that visit him.

    Unfortunately, many people there were just sitting around the halls in their wheelchairs, not moving much, with no place to go, nothing to do, and nobody to do it with.

    How exciting that Facebook could help even a handful of these people reconnect, make new friends, and have something to look forward to again!

  7. If FB is the next great thing, we’re in a lot of trouble.

    The little creep that founded it didn’t have a very nice view on privacy and the little snot nose could give a rodent’s behind about capitalism except that he’s worth a billion or so now.

    Sorry, I’ll pass on this one. Come on Perry, Adwords ain’t dead yet.

    Mad Guy

  8. I would not be surprised at all if Facebook was helping the elderly reconnect with friends and family, and even giving them “a reason to get up in the morning”. My mother at 80 really enjoys her email buddies, and I’ve been trying to get her onto Facebook. Even for myself, finding friends I never thought I’d see or hear from again is a wonderful thing!

  9. There is medical precedent for people living longer because of social interactions. The Roseto effect as described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.

  10. Here’s a more ‘hands on’ approach.
    My wife wrote this letter to the editor of the
    local newspaper…John

    Be A Ray of Sunshine

    “The next time you visit a nursing home and head toward the exit stating
    “This place is depressing!” consider this.

    YOU could go back in and BE SOMEONE’S SUNSHINE!

    Strokes, broken hips, emphysema, cerebral palsy (as examples) are NOT contagious. Usually these situations occurred BEFORE the residents were admitted.

    Some of these precious souls have no friends nor family members who see about their needs. Introduce yourself to the administrator and get permission to make a difference in someone’s life.

    Can’t you hold a hand? Can’t you listen to a woman or man and learn from their past?

    I recently learned that years ago RAINWATER was sold in stores! Also a plane made an emergency landing on Cullman’s main highway in a winter storm. The victims were taken to our old hospital.

    Find out if a lady or gentleman wants a walking partner as you stroll down the hall, stop to visit a friend, look out a window to see NATURE, check out a new game going on in the dining hall.

    Activities’ directors work in a marathon of preparation for birthday parties, Mother’s Day events, shopping trips to Walmart, to the fair, taking pictures…

    Why not sit beside someone having difficulty playing bingo?
    Be a cheerleader rooting for their efforts! Find out their interests. Buy old quilting books at a yard sale for them to browse through. Donate thread, hymnbooks, seeds for the garden, potting soil, shower caps, toothbrushes, hats, handkerchiefs and best of all YOUR smiles and attitude!”

    Glenna Webb Lambert

  11. Perry,
    I’ve personally seen the change you describe in my mother & her new ‘connection’ to distant family via a small netbook & email. I can’t imagine what the impact would be if she joined FB; it would certainly multiply the effect.

    The problem for seniors is getting over the fear factor of using new technologies (& rightly so in some respects).

    Re: obliterating illiteracy… hmmm. Have u scene how ppl yuse / abyuse the langage on socal netwerks?

    I pity the non-english speaker who intends to sharpen their skills this way!

  12. I’ve been trying to advocate the use of technology (computers) for awhile now too, for the elderly. They still play Lawrence Welk music at these places (AC/DC has yet to be played at a nursing home). Nothing against Lawrence Welk but let the innuendo sink-in as to how behind the times the residence’s mentality is.

    It’s indicative of their generation (this WW II generation). Technology to them means evidence of war. Just like if someday they were able to turn the manufacturing of Aids into a source of energy – you and I would never take a shine to it’s usefulness, while our children smile up at us thinking Aids was the next best thing to sliced bread, you see?

    It’s tainted…

    However, the whole point is mute, things will catch up and level themselves off. We really need to have mandatory “Self Enrichment” policies in the work place, just like mandatory breaks and lunches etc. The WW II generations only know how to work for the sake of working, they have no concept of self enrichment.

    Facts & demographics speak for themselves…


    Generally Speaking

  13. C’mon Perry…

    Let’s not give glory where it doesn’t belong. I don’t know who your reliable source is but…

    I’ll agree that loneliness is a terrible depressing thing (I’ve spent much time visiting in nursing homes) and when you’re stuck in a nursing home unable to do anything about that situation does have some impact people (but the #1 cause people die?)

    And I’ll wholeheartedly agree that any kind of stimulation that keeps you revved up will keep you going longer. I just got, my 87 year old mom (who is NOT in a nursing home) her first computer and she’s loving the internet. Even got her Skyping with her brother.

    But let’s be realistic. Facebook launched a little over 5 years ago. Even if they signed up seniors across the country on day 1, there likely wouldn’t be enough data to prove “This is literally extending life spans – to the point of wreaking havoc in the long-term care industry.”

    I totally understand your point but articles like this, next thing you know we’ll be reading… WAIT A MINUTE… WHAT?!??! Facebook’s cured cancer??!!



    1. I wish I could give you the original source, but it’s a friend of a friend and I don’t have permission to say who they are. It’s the best I can do for you. They own a company that’s a service provider in the long term care industry.

      One guy wrote me a scathing blog comment which got deleted about how this was a horrible example of copywriting and I shouldn’t dare write something without offering sufficient proof. Well, my blog to some degree is for business friends not hard core skeptics so I don’t feel the need to back up absolutely everything I have to say.

      Those who don’t like it can unsubscribe and take their bad manners elsewhere.

      Meanwhile I do know a lot of nursing homes have computer rooms and I’m sure someone can back up what I’m sayin’….

  14. Once again, Perry you hit the nail on the head with this blog post about Facebook changing the world!

    This week they will have reached 500 million subscribers. Great for us advertisers :)

    Thanks for your advertising expertise and research for Google and now Facebook.

  15. I am on the Board of a major nursing home and had not heard about FB extending lives. It’s probably true, but where did you get your information?

  16. Great info, Perry. When we started going to remote areas of Honduras through Sharefish the villages had no access to the outside world. Now the villagers may live in mud huts with dirt floors and no furniture, but chances are good that there is a cell phone in the house!

  17. Hi Perry…

    We love this, your post re seniors and facebook… and thank you for sharing! It’s so wonderful to hear that this is helping our elders… I would have never thought!

    is it possible to know your source of where you got this info?… as we’d love to add this wonderful bit of news to a local seniors newsletter here in Vancouver, BC Canada – to share this news so others can connect in….

    Enjoy and find your posts very informative… with many thanks, weaver :o)

  18. Perry,

    We have all heard how Facebook is connecting people. My daughter and son live on the west coast and east coast respectively. Because of their work schedules they never talked. Now they ‘communicate’ on a regular basis through Facebook.

    Funny, Facebook is delivering on the big ideas that the internet would make for one interconnected world.

    That Facebook through connections can extend lives is profound.

    John Deck

  19. Gracias por tu articulos, aqui atento a ellos, me parece algo sencsacional esto que hace face para los ancianos y creo que todos debemos hacer algo en benficio de la comunidad

  20. I set up a facebook account for my 92 year old father. He doesn’t “DO” computers but gets a kick out of me reading his account to him and sometimes printing out messages. He finds it exciting when someone wants to be his friend (like his great grand children).

  21. Perry,

    I sometimes read what you write, although I have your
    subscription from couple of years. I have an Engineering and MBA degree, and dropped my PhD twice. I once conculded about Marketing Models, whether it’s Google, Face Book, Microsoft or Yahoo. You know, if you
    want to lead in the market especially within a City like
    London or if you want to extend the Marketing to a Country, please think of a Model that can make the
    existing Model as Obsolete.
    Have a look here.

    Thanks and Regards



  22. It is amazing how many people are using facebook. It seems to be as popular as email itself. I look forward to learning how to make money advertising in this medium.

    Thanks Perry

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