Visiting the doctor for guidance regarding a chronic condition or an annual checkup is a foundational component of good health. However, the global coronavirus pandemic has made a simple trip to a medical office seem more hazardous. Fortunately, adults across America have the option to still get the medical attention they need without having to take any of the risks that may result from leaving their homes, thanks to telehealth.
What Is Telehealth?
Though telehealth is becoming more popular because of the coronavirus pandemic, the option has been available for years. Telehealth is technically defined as enhancing healthcare services and support using technology and telecommunications solutions. When most people think of telehealth, they think of virtual doctor’s appointments that take place with the assistance of video calls. This is certainly an excellent solution that can be classified as telehealth, but it isn’t the only solution that telemedicine offers. Telehealth also includes remote patient monitoring, online health education, and online storage for medical charts or imaging.
Seniors and Telehealth
Anyone of any age can benefit from telehealth. However, older adults can enjoy a variety of benefits from telehealth solutions. The hurdle is getting older adults to become comfortable enough with telehealth to consider its options. A recent survey noted that while only 1 percent of older adults had ever had an online physician’s visit, more than half of older adults were willing to try it out. Perhaps one way to boost confidence in older adults who are willing to give telehealth a try is to note the benefits and opportunities.
Easier Chronic Health Management
Telehealth can make chronic health management and prescription refills for older adults much easier and more efficient. For example, a senior with arthritis who is experiencing no new symptoms or challenges can make a quick telehealth appointment to have their arthritis medication renewed for the next 6-12 months.
Less Transportation Hassle
Not all older adults drive, which means a doctor’s appointment can require family members to coordinate transportation to and from the physician’s office, as well as any follow-up locations such as a pharmacy or lab. This can be frustrating and confusing, and it is not always efficient. Telehealth eliminates non emergency visits to physicians offices, which will make life a bit easier.
Less Exposure to Germs
Though staff at doctor’s offices are careful and clean their facilities thoroughly, there is still an increased risk of germ exposure in the office and surrounding areas. Seniors with compromised immune systems can eliminate extra-risky situations by choosing telehealth solutions instead of heading to the doctor’s office.
If a senior is returning home after a hospital stay or procedure, or if they have recently been diagnosed with a new condition, being alone can make them feel nervous. But thanks to remote medical monitoring solutions via telehealth, seniors can be confident that their physicians are getting real-time updates about their health and can contact them or make adjustments accordingly.
Fewer Crisis Situations
More than half of older adults have reported delaying seeking care for a medical issue because they thought it took too long to make a general appointment with their preferred medical provider. With telehealth, older adults have the chance to keep up with regular appointments and make new appointments if a condition is changing or if they are worried about something new. This could decrease emergency room visits and fewer crisis situations, which is ideal for everyone.
Medical Care from Anywhere
Finally, older adults are often on the go and can miss or postpone appointments because of travel. Telehealth allows older adults to continue with their scheduled appointments from anywhere in the world, including a hotel room or Airbnb.
Senior independent living communities offer not only the Wifi connection needed to make telehealth easy for residents, but also the helpful hand of a nurse to make sure that the first visit goes smoothly. Learn more about independent living options — including what perks to look for during your tours — by downloading our free guide, “Everything You Need to Know About Independent Living.”