Is telemedicine the future of health care for seniors
The stereotype that older people are not tech-savvy is prevalent in society. However, this may only be a stereotype as research shows that senior citizens are not as averse to technology as it is being said.
In the USA, 80% of the senior citizens have a cell phone and 70% of them have been known to gather health information through the internet. Especially in times of the pandemic, telemedicine has done wonders for people with health issues, especially for older people.
Telemedicine and senior care
A large majority of senior citizens in the United States are familiar with the current technology. The thing to do now is to get them familiar with telemedicine in hopes that they may live their lives independently. This will greatly increase access to health care professionals for senior citizens. Other than that it will also abolish the need for them having to go long distances for healthcare.
Due to COVID-19, it has become essential for senior citizens to have online access to their physicians because age also diminishes immunity. Among the immune-compromised population of US citizens, the majority is that of older people. The following things are important for senior patients which telemedicine platform covers:
- To help merge behavioral and primary health care, this leads to stronger outcomes.
- A need for reduced trips to the emergency room.
- A strong need for the reduction of delays in health-care.
- A need for reduced transportation barriers especially in remote areas where healthcare may not be available.
Telehealth for seniors and their caregivers
According to research, 50% of senior citizens have 3 or more chronic conditions. For these patients, constant medical care and caregivers are necessary to keep their health in check. The pandemic has not only caused problems for the patients but also their caregivers. The caregivers are mostly loved ones of the older patients who would give all their time and money to care for them. Telemedicine can become a lifeline for these caregivers in ways that are listed down below:
- Most caregivers have to take time off work for the scheduled appointments of their loved ones. Telemedicine can remove that barrier by making those appointments from the comforts of their homes.
- Caregivers can contact the physicians even from their work so they can gather more information from the physician on how to take care of their aging loved ones,
- Research shows that telemedicine can greatly reduce the stress of caregivers after the discharge of a patient.
Types of telemedicine for Senior citizens
There are three different types of telemedicine for seniors that can be used for their needed healthcare.
This refers to the telehealth services that are provided in real-time. These services can be acquired through video-conferencing. For synchronous telemedicine services, all that is needed is a communication device with a camera and a microphone like cellphones, tablets, or personal computers.
Asynchronous telemedicine services are the ones that do not involve real-time appointments but already stored and forwarded data. This refers to data sent through emails or texts.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring allows patients and their caregivers to track data of the vital signs for patients especially the high-risk ones. Most of these patients are ones with chronic ailments. Remote patient monitoring includes tracking blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, and much more.
Tips for healthcare providers
When caring for senior individuals, healthcare providers should keep in mind to assess the comfort levels of their patients. Before the appointment, some things that should be kept in mind are:
- Call the patient before the appointment to give them instructions on how to use the platform. It is to make sure that the patient knows how to use the technology properly.
- Give them instructions in written formats that are easy to understand or better yet, provide screenshots.
- Teach those ways to make their experience by giving them instructions to enhance their abilities to use new technologies.
Apart from all that, health care providers should also consider the following things when taking care of senior patients:
- Sensory changes
- Cognitive changes
- Strategies to build a harmonious relationship between them and the patient.
As humans grow older, it is a natural phenomenon that the body becomes weaker with time. This leads to needing better and quicker health care services. Telemedicine is here to fix all the needs of the older people when it comes to healthcare services. There may be a few drawbacks to the system as the technology is relatively new to the world yet it is getting better with time.
On top of all the problems that the seniors citizens have to face to get their necessary health care services, the pandemic has made their safety a huge problem. Telemedicine has played a vital role in ensuring the safety and comfort of the older members of society and will continue to do so.
Dr. Josh is a physician who's helping spread the knowledge about Telehealth and its advantages. At SmartClinix, he's providing his expertise and knowledge in the form of engaging articles on various health & tech related topics.