How Geriatric Patients Can Benefit from Telehealth

Using Telehealth to Care for the Elderly

When we think of digital technology, we tend to think of younger individuals using their smartphones and other digital devices. But this line of thinking doesn’t necessarily apply to telehealth. Older generations can use telehealth technology to improve their access to care and reduce the cost of healthcare services.

The number of Americans age 65 and older is rising dramatically. Estimates show this demographic will rise from 46 million today to 98 million by the year 2060. With more elderly patients seeking care, families will have to make difficult decisions when figuring out how to best care for their loved one. The cost of a nursing home can be out of reach for many Americans, which means many families will need to stay at home to care for their loved one. Telehealth can reduce the burden on these families by lowering the cost of essential healthcare services. Learn more about how geriatric patients and their families can benefit from telehealth.

The Need for Affordable Elderly Care

Elderly patients tend to have complex healthcare needs as they manage a range of conditions and diseases. But getting access to healthcare can be a challenge for many elderly patients, especially for those that live in rural areas. Around 7 million older adults are considered homebound or have trouble leaving their home without help. Without a loved one to help them or a dedicated driver, these individuals may be unable to visit their healthcare provider in person, leaving them with few alternatives unless they have access to telehealth services.

The price of putting an older patient in a nursing home is simply unaffordable for many families. Additionally, older patients tend to prefer at-home care to staying in a nursing home. In many cases, a loved one will move in with the older patient to provide at-home care, but, without proper training, many of these family caregivers will still need the advice and support of the healthcare community.

How Telehealth Can Improve Access to Elderly Care

Telehealth gives patients the option to consult with their healthcare provider remotely using live video, audio and instant messaging on a telemedicine app. This reduces the need for in-person visits and consultations, making it easier for at-home caregivers to meet the needs of their loved ones. Many of these at-home caregivers will have responsibilities of their own, from raising children to holding down a job. If they can consult with their loved one’s doctor from the comfort of their own home, they won’t have to spend as much time shuttling their loved one to and from the doctor’s office. At-home healthcare providers can quickly gain valuable insight and knowledge from these remote consultations, improving their loved one’s quality of care.

Telehealth can help families and elderly patients in the following ways:

  • Reduce the burden and cost of certain travel expenses
  • Reduce the number of unnecessary hospital visits
  • Reduce the stress put on at-home caregivers
  • Improve overall patient satisfaction

Using Telehealth to Care for the Elderly

At-home caregivers can use telehealth to help better manage and treat a range of conditions and diseases that tend to affect older patients. While in many of these cases, in-person visits will still be required, telehealth makes it easier for family caregivers to care for their loved one by giving them direct access to healthcare professionals. If they have a question about caring for their loved one, they can always consult with a licensed physician or specialist using telemedicine video conferencing software.

Telehealth can be used to care for and manage the following conditions and diseases:

  • Palliative Care: At-home caregivers can use telehealth to report on the condition of their loved one as their health continues to deteriorate while receiving valuable feedback and advice from healthcare professionals.
  • Transitional Care for Heart Failure: At-home caregivers can use telehealth to stay on top of their loved one’s treatment regimen following an episode of heart failure, including dispensing medications, diet, physical activity, and managing stress levels.
  • Chronic Disease Management: Telehealth helps at-home caregivers report on the condition of their loved one, giving healthcare providers insight into how their disease is progressing over time. Caregivers can use telehealth to stay on top of medications, dietary information, and mental and physical changes.
  • Primary Care for Frail Individuals: Patients that have trouble moving or leaving the house can use telehealth to consult with healthcare professionals on a variety of primary healthcare issues and concerns, including joint pain, muscle stiffness, medications, and accident management and prevention.

There are so many ways elderly patients and family caregivers can use telehealth to their advantage. Digital healthcare services reduce the need for in-person appointments, lower the cost of care, reduce costly visits to the emergency room, and improve patient satisfaction. As more patients reach the age of retirement, more families will need to depend on these services to care for their elderly loved one.

 

Sources

https://www.prb.org/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197457215002347

https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2018/05/using-telehealth-to-improve-home-based-care-for-older-adults-and-family-caregivers.pdf



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