How Digital Health for Seniors Is Benefiting Everyone
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the health care industry in many ways. Facilities were forced to make a digital transformation to deliver quality medical care to their patients. One population benefited greatly from this transformation — the overall use of telemedicine services among seniors increased 300% during the pandemic.
Elderly folks have more medical requirements than the average person. They live longer, which means they likely have different health care needs than, say, a healthy middle-aged person or a toddler. It’s estimated that 80% of older adults have one chronic disease.
Digital health care offers alternative options for seniors, which benefits nurses, doctors and patients seeking care. Using the latest technology to improve medical processes helps the professionals providing care and elderly patients receiving it.
Here’s how digital health care is changing and how elderly patients can benefit from its applications.
Benefits of Health Technology for Older Adults
Seniors don’t usually rely on technology to take care of their medical needs, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to adapt. Because older populations were considered at-risk, limiting exposure was a priority. Visiting doctors from the comfort of their homes was a direct benefit they could reap.
The risks of contracting the virus often outweighed the benefits of going in for a routine checkup or even taking care of a more serious health concern. Older adults and their families had to assume these risks before setting up an in-person doctor appointment. How were they able to receive medical care during this time?
Thankfully, telehealth options like MDLive or Teladoc served as valuable alternatives to the traditional methods of treating health conditions. Meeting with a doctor virtually to discuss medications, symptoms of a disease or asking vital questions became that much easier with online telemedicine platforms.
It’s also critical to consider that older people often have limited mobility or could be disabled. Delivering high-quality medical care to these patients became much more manageable when they could connect virtually.
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Wearable Tracking Devices
Nurses and caregivers who can monitor their patients with wearable technology can provide more effective care. Tracking the progression of chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and respiratory issues is invaluable. Doctors can monitor their health more often in hopes of keeping them healthy and out of the hospital.
Using wearable biometric tracking devices means patients spend less time going to doctor appointments, which eases the burden on medical professionals and reduces the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Passive Remote Monitoring
Artificial intelligence (AI) applications and the Internet of Things (IoT) in health care for older adults are widescale. The ability to remotely monitor someone’s daily activities and obtain that information is made possible by using sensors installed within their home.
For example, sensors placed on a refrigerator door can tell when it opens and closes. If an older adult should be eating three meals a day but only opens the refrigerator once, there could be a related health concern that social workers or caregivers need to be aware of.
Sharing alerts with the right people allows elderly folks to receive more personalized and preventative care. Remote monitoring opens up a world of possibilities for those who treat elderly patients.
Elderly patients who live independently can benefit from the use of social robotic companions, like ElliQ. ElliQ is an advanced robot that supports elderly folks experiencing loneliness and isolation as a result of aging. They can help people set reminders for medication, greet them in the morning and even help them stay fit with physical exercise programs.
One concern about these robots is the privacy of data. ElliQ uses industry-leading security architecture and is HIPAA compliant, ensuring users that their personal health information is protected.
Digital Health and the Future of Geriatric Care
As more health-related tech emerges, it’s clear that both doctors and patients benefit from their applications. The industry has always utilized the latest and greatest technology to improve the quality of care within facilities and institutions. Whether it’s remote monitoring with IoT sensors or robotics as companions, new technologies help bridge the gaps between elderly patients and their caregivers.
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Shannon Flynn - Managing Editor at ReHack
With over 4 years of writing and editing experience, Shannon focusses on covering topics like medical, health, and lifestyle technology.
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