Telehealth for Senior Care
A Senior’s Guide to Telehealth
Telehealth – virtual health care appointments through a computer, tablet or smartphone – has grown in popularity over the last few years. However, no year has seen such a boom in telehealth use by older adults as 2020. According to The National Poll on Healthy Aging, older adults who reported participating in a telehealth visit increased significantly from four percent in May 2019 to 30 percent in June 2020.
Telehealth has been found to be more convenient for seniors, allowing them to connect with their doctors faster in the comfort of their own homes. Knowing the ins and outs of a telehealth visit and how to prepare can ensure you have a positive telehealth experience.
What Is Telehealth and What Are the Benefits?
According to the Health Resources Services Administration, telehealth is “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
Telehealth can be used for a range of medical conditions, including general physicals, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections and problems with the eyes and skin. Management of chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, COPD and arthritis can also often be handled via telemedicine. Thanks to portable technology you can use in your home, you can check your own blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate while speaking with your doctor.
Even more complex conditions that you’d think require in-person appointments can be at least partially handled through telehealth visits. For example, some post-operative evaluations can be handled through virtual visits, since you can take your own blood pressure and your doctor can evaluate how you’re doing through video.
The biggest benefit to telehealth for older adults is the convenience offered. You don’t have to get into your car, drive to your doctor’s office and wait in a crowded waiting room until you’re called. Instead, you can sign into your appointment from the comfort of your own home.
Of course, telehealth visits aren’t perfect. The National Poll on Healthy Aging found that 67 percent of older adults were worried the quality of care during a telehealth visit wouldn’t be as good as at an in-person appointment. Fortunately, there are ways you can make your telehealth visit just as positive as your in-person visits with your doctor.
Preparing for a Telehealth Visit
To make your telehealth appointment productive and beneficial to you, follow the following steps:
- Prepare Your Technology. A telehealth visit can become cumbersome and frustrating if you can’t hear what your doctor is saying or if your internet drops off. Start by deciding what technology you’re going to use. If your doctor needs to watch you walk around, a desktop with a camera on it may be best. If you will need to take a photo of your skin for a dermatology appointment, use your tablet or smartphone for higher resolution photos.
Once you know what device you’ll use, make sure it is fully charged before your appointment. Ensure your Wi-Fi connection is strong, and if it isn’t, use an ethernet cable to connect to your internet router. It’s also important to check with your healthcare provider about any technical requirements needed for the appointment, that way you have the correct setup on your device when you’re ready to sign in.
- Determine the Best Room in Your House for Your Call. No matter what your appointment is for, you’ll want to make sure the room you’re in is quiet and has enough space if you need to move around. Natural light is also important, as this will help your doctor see and evaluate you more clearly.
- Plan What You’re Going to Say During the Visit. If telehealth visits are new for you, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with the process. This means it’s more important than ever to prepare what you plan to say ahead of time. Write down exactly what you’re experiencing, your concerns and every question you have. You can reference these notes during your call to help you stay organized and keep the conversation moving.
- Be Detailed During the Call. Since your doctor won’t be able to evaluate you in person, it’s necessary for you to be as detailed as you possibly can about the condition you’re struggling with or the symptoms you’re experiencing. Again, you can write down every single detail you can think of before the call, that way you don’t leave anything out when you start talking with your doctor.
- Document the Call and Ask about Next Steps. A benefit of doing a virtual doctor appointment from home is you can sit at a desk or table and jot down everything your doctor says. These notes will help you remember all that was discussed once you’re done with the call. Be sure to also ask about next steps, like if you need to schedule a follow-up appointment or receive a prescription. Knowing what comes next can leave you feeling confident about your appointment once you hang up with your doctor.
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As a nationally recognized leader in senior lifestyle opportunities, Asbury continually redefines the expectations of aging. With eight continuing care retirement communities, we are more than just a place to call home. We are a place where new friendships can blossom and where new experiences and opportunities are just around the corner. Learn more about our communities in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.