In 2020, the CDC estimated that around 5.8 million people in the United States were living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2060, that number is predicted to rise to an estimated 14 million people. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and the loss of other important mental functions.
November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and to show Trapollo’s support, we’re exploring how telehealth can play an important role in treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Telehealth helps enable health care providers to provide care without an in-person visit. Providers connect with patients and their families over the phone or via video chat. With remote monitoring, physicians can even check a patient’s vitals from afar.
For patients with Alzheimer’s disease, telehealth opens the door to new treatment options and specialists, no matter where they live. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) reports that, “Telehealth innovations…are ushering in a promising new area for dementia care and caregiving.”
And while telehealth services won’t completely replace in-person doctor visits anytime soon, they’re becoming a critical part of a patient’s care plan. Let’s look at a few of the many ways telehealth can streamline treatment and benefit patients with dementia.
4 Ways Telehealth Streamlines Dementia Treatment
COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of telehealth, especially in the management and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, several years since the onset of the pandemic, telehealth visits continue to be a critical piece of home care for dementia patients. From helping people with Alzheimer’s disease age in place to monitoring and detecting falls, learn how telehealth is helping to improve the quality of life for those with dementia.
Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Age in Place
In the traditional model of dementia patient care, many Alzheimer’s patients live in long-term residential care facilities and frequently visit their primary care provider. But, getting to and from the clinician’s office can be very challenging for the patient and their caregiver, especially if the patient lives in a rural area, has limited mobility, or lacks adequate transportation.
Telehealth reduces the need for frequent in-person doctor visits—it can even enable some dementia patients to continue living at home, which 77% of adults ages 50 and older prefer. New telehealth technology is helping patients safely age in place. With virtual visits, patients can regularly meet with their physicians without having to leave their homes and travel. For some Alzheimer’s patients, staying in a familiar environment may prevent anxiety, confusion, and agitation.
Connects Patients with Specialists Across the Country
People with Alzheimer’s disease need expert care. And for many people with this disease, dementia expertise may not be available anywhere near their homes. Telehealth makes disease care and education more accessible for people located throughout the country, including in areas once isolated from quality or specialized healthcare.
“There can be huge geographic gaps in where dementia care specialists are available. Even if patients are able to see dementia specialists, it might be only once a year or every six months,” says Katherine L. Possin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Telehealth removes physical barriers. So, no matter where a patient lives, they can receive the specialized care they need from the comfort of home. Telehealth platforms also connect patients with virtual Alzheimer’s support groups, where they can find community and interact with others who also have dementia.
Monitors Patients to Prevent Dangerous Situations
Some people with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to walk or wander, putting them at a higher risk of fatigue, falls, or getting lost. Telehealth has been shown to improve patient safety within their homes, giving patients and their caregivers peace of mind.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) gives dementia patients the freedom they desire while helping to prevent dangerous situations. It’s a non-intrusive way to collect real-time patient data, which allows physicians to monitor their patient’s health and alter treatment plans as needed.
Some patients may even wear activity trackers that monitor their location and automatically detect falls. Trackers can alert caregivers if a patient wanders into dangerous areas or unexpectedly leaves their home.
Provides Text Reminders for Medications and Daily Tasks
Forgetting to take daily medications is harmful to a person’s health—Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to forget whether they took their medication and may accidentally take more than prescribed. Oftentimes, dementia patients need help managing their medications.
Telehealth applications send patients daily reminders to take their medications and complete tasks. Video monitoring can help increase the likelihood of medication compliance among patients who live alone.
Help Advance Alzheimer’s Care with Telehealth Solutions
Because of the recent advancements in telehealth technology and solutions, people with Alzheimer’s have the ability to receive high-quality health care without traveling to a physician’s office. And not only does telehealth benefit patients, but their caregivers, families, and physicians as well. While researchers continue to search for effective Alzheimer’s treatments, virtual care can play a role in keeping patients comfortable and safe.
Trapollo offers a full suite of virtual care solutions to help health care providers provide streamlined treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Contact us today to learn more about how our telehealth solutions can help you better serve your patients and their caregivers.