The rise of virtual care during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to several positive outcomes despite the current situation in the world. These outcomes enhance aging in place and protect those most vulnerable, providing opportunities to improve the healthcare experience for aging adults.
According to a report by Rock Health, there are several specific areas of opportunity for new technologies in virtual care to improve aging in place.
- Improved Online Platforms
Improved online platforms can provide an easier understanding of information and a more enjoyable user experience for aging individuals. One example of these improvements could be a more simply designed user interface with larger fonts for accessibility.
- Connectivity to Loved Ones
The benefit of remaining connected to loved ones, family, and friends directly relate to healthcare by improving the physical, mental, and spiritual health of aging individuals.
A 2019 report by the NIH and the National Institute on Aging stated that societal isolation in older people poses several health risks; loneliness, the biggest emotional consequence of social isolation, is associated with the progression of mental and physical conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. Along with loneliness are the factors of anxiety and depression, which can appear hand-in-hand with loneliness from prolonged isolation.
In conclusion, being connected to loved ones, at the very least, maintains and can possibly improve the well-being of those aging in place.
- Support of Food Security
Virtual care can also take the form of procuring food for those aging in place by working with health facilities to meet their needs while also enabling them to remain secure in the comfort of their own homes. The new forms of food services allow for the elderly to even manage their medical diets with the collaboration of their doctors via virtual tools.
- Connecting Seniors to Healthcare Professionals
The ability to virtually participate in a face-to-face meeting is one of the most important developments to virtual care, allowing for information to be communicated more effectively between the healthcare professional and their patient using more than just one communicative channel. It provides several human communication channels such as facial expression, verbal intonation, and gestures versus written means, and the use of captions provides captions for those with difficulty hearing. This would also enable long-distance family members to participate in their virtual health care appointments.
- Improving Therapy Methods
The use of virtual telemedicine technologies can aid in assisting those aging in place with therapy from surgeries and other health-related events. Particularly useful in rural areas where hospitals are few and far between, virtual telemedicine can work to provide greater access to healthcare for these individuals and their therapists or home health care providers.
- Acute At-home Care
Virtual care can be used to help monitor those aging in place and bring quality care providers to their residences instead of having to travel to a hospital or care facility risking oneself to illness. Medical equipment, such as a prosthesis, can also be ordered to the patient’s doorstep using online provided tools.
- Training of Caregivers
Virtual care can be used to train aging-in-place care providers to better support their older loved ones. According to Rock Health, more than 1 in 6 Americans aid in caring for an older family member or friend. The training methods from virtual care can help alleviate some of the obstacles to caregiving.
- A Nursing Home Alternative
The thought of being placed into a nursing home can be a heartbreaking choice for some families or caregivers. Thankfully, virtual care provides the option of bringing trustworthy and quality care to older loved ones giving them the ability to continue aging in place in their own homes and enjoy more freedom of movement and choice in their daily lives.
Diversified Nurse Consultant’s “My Health & Wellness Tool Kit” improves the virtual care concepts along with communication with healthcare professionals. We also offer “My Life Plan Tool Kit” which communicates wishes and stores critical information. Virtual care provides a much higher level of independence for those aging in place and enjoyment of their daily lives, even as their solutions for care may become more complex over time. These virtual opportunities are a much more attractive choice for many older loved ones and help to make aging in place a much easier option for both the elderly and their families when determining their healthcare.
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