I learned about Ms. Ivy Bean at the end of her 104-year life, but in a matter of weeks, I became enraptured by and ended up learning a lot from this amazing woman.  Aside from learning she loves fish and chips, which she had every Friday at the nursing home, I also learned she is a big fan of Peter Andre, an English-born Australian singer–songwriter and television personality  (pictured here kissing Ms Bean), she  loved chatting with her thousands of fans and friends on Facebook and Twitter and said being online kept her from “falling asleep so much.”  Probably the two most important lessons I learned from Ivy Bean is to continue learning all of your days, make friends with strangers.

In 2007, Ms Bean learned to use the computer when social services brought laptops into the nursing home where she lived. She joined Facebook at age 102 and when word spread that she was the oldest Facebook user, she became a rockstar, quickly hitting her 5,000 friend limit.  That was when she discovered Twitter, which she said was much easier to use.  She tweeted (over 1000 tweets) about her life in the nursing home.  Some were mundane and some so sweet you just wish you could have spent many an afternoon sipping tea with her.

So what can we learn from the incredible Ivy Bean?

1. Be authentic and caring. Ivy loved hearing about and often commented on the adventures and family matters of her followers.  She also shared her concern with her house-mates when they were sick or even once when another resident, Kathleen, “went missing for over 10 minutes” and the police had to be called.

2. It's okay to let people have a peek into your world. Ivy shared her excitement about getting an invitation to meet the prime minister but she also admitted that he wasn't as good looking at Peter Andre! She shared her love of fish and chips and the joy she got out of having tea with her friends and playing Connect 4.  These snippets allowed people to grow to love Ivy and truly connect with her.

3. When you are open to learning something new, your world just might open up something new and wonderful for you! Taking up Facebook at 102 years of age and then Twitter shortly after, Ivy Bean discovered, and connected to, a world she had never known.  She became a source of inspiration and encouragement to those down the hall in the nursing home as well as people around the globe.  She was treated like a celebrity and was having fun with her new friends.

Thank you Ivy for connecting with the world and leaving a lasting legacy!

I hope to grow up some day to be just like Ms. Ivy Bean!

What can you do to inspire those around you this month?  Share your inspiration.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Gina Carr

    Thanks for sharing this story Gina. I think this illustrates one of the most important societal aspects of social media – that of enabling people to communicate and connect in ways that could never have been imagined.

    Just think of the additional joy that was experienced by Ivy Bean when she was able to connect and inspire people around the world.

    The “mental health” aspects of social media are vastly under-discussed (at least from what I’ve seen).

    • GinaSchreck

      Gina you are so right! Those who say social technology is too impersonal really need to read about sweet Ivy Bean! Her story has inspired me to take action. I am in contact with nursing homes here locally. How can each of us get involved to help teach and connect the elderly?

      Gina2 :))

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