While COVID-19 created many new challenges for the healthcare industry, it helped advance existing telehealth and aging in place technology. “Coronavirus sped up the development of ‘age-tech,’ technology that helps older people age in place by seven to ten years,” according to Joe Coughlin, director of MIT AgeLab in Cambridge.
Surveys continue to report that older adults prefer to live independently in their homes instead of in an assisted living community. But, due to disabilities and illnesses, it can be challenging for seniors to continue living at home. One study suggests that institutionalized elderly people show greater cognitive decline than individuals who continue living at home.
Aging in place technology can help prolong seniors’ ability to live safely at home. New cloud-based technology solutions are allowing patients to return and live at home after a health crisis without personal aid. These solutions are saving patients money and helping them avoid or prolong the decision to live in an assisted living community.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections, all baby boomers will be older than the age of 65 by 2030. This means 1 in every 5 residents will be at retirement age. And by 2050, the number of adults aged 60 and older in the U.S. is expected to increase by 30%. With a growing senior population living longer than past generations and an ongoing shortage of home health aides, technology for aging in place is crucial to the future of healthcare.
Exploring The Top Technology for Aging in Place
From remote patient monitoring to wearable devices, technology is evolving to help senior patients reap the benefits of aging in place. Here are some of the most advanced technology solutions that healthcare providers are adopting to help care for and monitor remote patients.
1. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
From reducing in-person appointments to gathering patients vitals, remote patient monitoring allows providers to continuously provide top quality care to patient populations from the comfort of their homes.
Remote patient monitoring is a technology-based healthcare delivery method that allows healthcare providers to collect patient data with medical devices. RPM relies on these medical devices, including blood pressure monitors, weight scales, wearables, and so much more. Through these devices, RPM sends the patients’ data to providers in real-time, so physicians can assess the data and potentially intervene with future care or instruction.
Here are five ways remote patient monitoring helps seniors age in place:
- Engages patients – Because RPM solutions collect and send patient data to physicians, patients become more aware of their conditions and treatment needs. It can help patients adhere to medication schedules and increase their general well-being.
- Improves medication compliance – From medication-specific apps that deliver automated medication reminders to digital pillboxes that make it easier for patients to remember which medication to take, RPM is improving medication compliance. Sometimes patients forget their medications or which ones to take, and this technology helps patients stay on schedule while alerting their caregivers when medications are taken.
- Collects real-time patient data – Medical devices — biosensors, blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors, and heart implants — automate data collections and make it easier for physicians to understand a patient’s conditions.
- Reduces the need for travel – Remote patient monitoring reduces in-person appointments, giving patients back hours in their day. Less travel is incredibly beneficial for senior patients with disabilities and mobility limitations.
- Enhances quality of care and life – Whether a patient is recovering from an injury or managing a chronic condition, RPM technology is a non-intrusive way to keep patients’ data accurate and up-to-date. This aging in place technology gives patients more independence without compromising their quality of care. Physicians receive alerts and real-time data to adjust treatment plans as needed.
Remote patient monitoring services bridge the gap between technology, data, and patient care. RPM software solutions give patients and providers a customized alternative to traditional healthcare so patients can remain at home and physicians can continue to deliver excellent care. Learn more about how Trapollo’s RPM aging in place solutions are reducing costs, improving outcomes, and helping senior patients age in place.
2. Activity Trackers and Smartwatches
About 21% of Americans use smartwatches or fitness trackers to track their health data. There are also countless healthcare-specific devices that providers are using to track patient health.
Wearable devices are an important part of aging in place and help alert providers when a patient may need a change in their treatment plan. Here are a few ways smartwatch technology can help seniors age in place:
- Detect falls – Some fitness watches and wearable devices can detect falls. If a fall is detected, the watch can call emergency services and alert the patient’s physician and caregiver. This aging in place technology feature gives both senior patients and their loved ones peace of mind.
- Track health data – Smartwatches, activity trackers, and smartphones can track a patient’s activity levels, heart rate, weight, sleep, and more. In the future, researchers are hoping this data can help physicians predict falls, strokes, and other health problems before they happen.
- Set daily reminders – Smartwatches and healthcare-specific devices can remind patients to take their medications, attend virtual appointments, and follow their customized care plan.
- Find a patient’s location – Wearable devices are equipped with GPS capabilities, which can help locate a patient. Older adults with memory loss may become confused or wander — smartwatches can be lifesaving in these circumstances.
Wearable devices are a key part of the intelligent healthcare solutions that Trapollo provides to healthcare providers. We believe that tracking real-time health data benefits both providers and patients. From the consistency of care to personalized medicine, wearable devices will be a necessary tool and technology for aging in place after a change in health.
3. Telehealth and Virtual Care
Whether a senior patient has new health questions or has difficulty traveling to regular appointments, telehealth is an aspect of aging in place technology that makes it easy for patients to schedule an appointment via computer or smartphone. Virtual visits are cost-effective and convenient for patients who can’t frequently travel.
Virtual visits spiked during March 2020, but the Medical Group Management Association’s recent poll results show that 30% of medical practices say patient demand for telehealth will increase in 2022. While telehealth was necessary to prevent face-to-face contact during the pandemic, leaders predict it will become an important part of healthcare’s future, especially for seniors.
Telehealth refers to all technologies used to support long-distance health care, such as video conferencing and mobile technology. Virtual visits and live chat messaging fall under virtual care, which is the patient-care component of telehealth. These tools help patients be proactive with their healthcare and help providers easily connect with patients.
Trapollo incorporates telehealth into our cloud-based virtual healthcare platform. This aging in place solution encourages patients to remain active in their care plan while knowing they can reach their virtual care team at their fingertips.
How Trapollo Helps Senior Patients Live at Home with Aging in Place Technology
Technology is changing how seniors live and receive care in their later stages of adulthood. It enables senior patients to continue living at home and maintain their independence, even after a health crisis or diagnosis of a chronic condition. Studies have shown that seniors remain more engaged and experience a higher quality of life when they live in familiar surroundings.
But, with the shortage of home health aides, it’s important for health care providers to adopt new technology that allows them to provide patients with remote care and monitoring. Trapollo is a leading provider of aging in place technology solutions. We equip providers with the healthcare support infrastructure needed to enable better senior patient care and outcomes. For more information about our solutions, contact us today.