Providing care for your older loved one can be complex and challenging during the best of times. Supporting those same loved ones during the covid-19 pandemic requires extra precautions to keep them safe.
Research shows that adults aged 60 and older, especially those with preexisting conditions, such as heart or lung disease, are more likely to have a severe coronavirus infection than other groups.
Because of this, many older adults are choosing to forgo regular doctor appointments. For example, someone with diabetes may opt to postpone a regular follow-up visit to avoid potential exposure to coronavirus. But while covid-19 is dangerous, so is ignoring everyday medical needs.
What’s the solution? Telemedicine.
Telemedicine has become the norm for many people, both young and old, in the last few months. It’s a cost-effective healthcare solution that allows for independence in the aging population while still keeping them safe.
Keep reading for more information:
What is Telehealth?
A telehealth appointment is simply a regular doctor visit done over the phone or on a computer. The doctor’s office will provide your older loved one with a special phone number or link that they can use to connect with their physician privately, in a safe and secure environment.
Their doctor can address concerns, make suggestions, and even prescribe medication over the call.
The benefits are many. Besides the convenience of “seeing” a doctor from the comfort of their own home, telemedicine appointments don’t require any transportation, and they reduce exposure to covid-19 and other viruses.
Types of Telehealth
There are three main types of telemedicine available for seniors. These are the options:
- Synchronous telehealth involves real-time communication. A phone call or two-way video conferencing is used to communicate from afar.
- Asynchronous telehealth is the a store-and-forward process, similar to email. Using a secure platform, the patient can share medical data with their doctor who will review it and respond later.
- Remote patient monitoring allows for the tracking of vital signs using sensors, cameras, and other devices.
Making the Most of a Visit
Just like in-person doctor visits, your older loved one should go to their telemedicine appointment prepared. Here are a few tips:
- Make a list of the issues they want to address so nothing gets missed. This is especially important during telehealth visits, where people are more likely to lose their train of thought.
- Keep track of symptoms and when they started/if they’ve changed. A brief record can help the doctor figure out what is causing symptoms.
- Have any medical equipment that the doctor has prescribed on hand.
- Take and share photos of obvious symptoms, such as bites, moles, or rashes.
- Call from a quiet place so the doctor is able to hear and understand.
- Don’t forget to address routine medical issues, like medication refills or paperwork required by the insurer.
Sometimes Face-to-Face is Best
Despite the ongoing pandemic, sometimes an office visit is the best option. For urgent or complex issues, such as dehydration from vomiting, the doctor’s office is still open for business.
Remember, an emergency is still an emergency: Sometimes the doctor needs to examine a patient and check vital signs to make an accurate diagnosis. Likewise, telemedicine doesn’t work for preventative procedures such as colonoscopies or mammograms.
Bottom line? In most instances, telemedicine offers a convenient and safe way to receive healthcare. When so much of regular life has been upended, it’s a great, stress-free way to connect with medical professionals.