During the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things. The way we shop, the way we connect with friends and family members, the way we explore living options, and the way we see the doctor. Although it’s been around for decades, telehealth for seniors grew rapidly in 2020 and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue. This blog post will explain what telehealth services are, examine the benefits of telehealth visits versus meeting your primary care physician face-to-face, and discuss why senior living communities are making it a part of their care plans.
What is telehealth for seniors?
While most of us are getting out a lot less, it’s important older adults continue to receive the care they need. Especially if they have a chronic condition that requires regular monitoring and/or checkups. Telehealth reduces the need for an in-person visit while increasing access to care. Just by downloading a telehealth app, seniors can consult with their health care provider using live video conferencing, audio and instant messaging.
What are the benefits of telehealth for seniors?
In addition to being able to stay home and reduce the number of required doctor’s office visits, telehealth offers these additional benefits:
- Time savings: Patients no longer have to drive or experience long waits before seeing the doctor. Telehealth also allows families and friends to virtually participate in visits or hospital rounds.
- Disease management: Seniors are more likely to experience chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, that require regular checkups. Remote patient monitoring allows doctors to monitor vital signs, glucose levels and other medical data.
A physician can then change medication or schedule a home health nurse visit before the need for in-person care
- Fewer hospital visits: For older adults living in assisted living, telehealth can connect on-site staff to specialized medical expertise. This allows intervention to be provided before a condition develops to the point where a visit to the hospital or emergency room is needed.
- Access to specialized care: Seniors with chronic conditions that need more personalized care can meet with specialists outside their local area without the need for time-consuming and stressful travel.
- Safe and secure: Telehealth services are legally required to abide by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) mandates that protect patient medical records to improve privacy and reduce fraud.
Why communities are adopting telehealth options for seniors
Senior living continues to adapt and change to meet the needs of current and future residents. Telehealth is one-way communities are using technology to help improve residents’ health and wellness, including:
- Heart care follow-up: After congestive heart failure, telehealth can allow doctors to monitor medications, diet, physical activity and stress levels.
- Primary care access: Residents who have mobility issues due to arthritis or Parkinson’s disease can use telehealth to consult with health care providers on a variety of primary issues and concerns, including joint pain, muscle stiffness, medications, and accident management and prevention.
- Greater patient visibility: Your loved one’s personal doctor is able to keep up with recent medical events or new medications to more effectively manage their care.
Choosing a community that’s committed to providing telehealth for seniors can make a huge difference in your or your loved one’s health and wellness. If you’re ready to start exploring, review a few communities near you with our Where You Live Matters community finder.