Aging is inevitable. The question is, how and where will it happen. Most people want it to happen in their residences. In fact, more than three-quarters of Americans older than 50 say their preference is to age in place – in their current homes or communities. That’s a natural desire, since there is a higher comfort level and support system of family and friends in familiar places, especially homes where they have either grown up themselves or raised their families.
By 2060, the population of older adults (age 65+) in the U.S. is expected to grow by nearly 70% from today and constitute almost a quarter of the population. That means there will be an increased demand for seniors looking to age in place, along with a need for health programs to support their healthcare needs.
With the healthcare system already strained due to inefficient systems and a growing shortage of physicians, the best opportunity to ensure older adults receive the care they need while being able to stay in their familiar environments is technology. Connected health can offer healthcare providers the tools to manage elderly patients from a distance and can give seniors the healthcare support infrastructure they need in several ways.
Health Data Monitoring–
Remote patient monitoring uses digital connected devices to collect health data from patients in their homes and securely transmit the data to providers and caregivers for monitoring and evaluation. This can make it easier for patients and physicians to manage treatment without constantly requiring in-person visits. It can also help better manage at-risk patients and reduce hospital admissions.
Remote Patient Engagement –
Tablets, smartphones, and laptops can all enable virtual visits, helping to increase engagement between providers and patients. They can also be used to deliver educational content (videos, newsletter, quizzes, etc.) to keep patients informed about their conditions and treatments. In addition, reminders can be sent to help patients stay on track with their medications, activity routines, and health data monitoring.
Fall Management & Prevention –
Some 30 million older adults fall down each year, with 20% of falls causing serious injury. Some wearable devices monitor body movement and position and are designed to predict falls, helping reduce risk of injury. Other devices – Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (MPERS) – offer older adults an easy way to call for help if they do experience a fall, simply by pressing a button. Some even include two-way voice communication to caregivers or providers and can immediately communicate with the patients to better understand the situation.
Virtual Physician Visits –
Using telehealth to enable virtual visits can make regular check-ins more convenient and efficient. While some situations may require in-person visits, many routine updates can take place virtually, reducing time and cost of travel, and allowing physicians to treat more patients while maintaining continuity of care.
Coordinated, Connected Care –
About 60% of older adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions. Those patients may receive care from several physicians or specialists. Telehealth also allows those medical professionals to collaborate on care efforts to ensure patients are receiving the best overall care.
As people age, their healthcare needs can become more complicated. But, connected health tools can reduce the complexity of caring for older adults.
To learn more about how connected health solutions can enable better patient care and outcomes, and improve the opportunity for people to age in place, contact us here.