Telehealth, also called telemedicine, is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of health services delivered virtually. As it becomes more widespread, telehealth offers numerous benefits to seniors living at home, including lower costs, increased accessibility, and the convenience of not having to drive to an office or clinic.
Health monitors are part of telehealth, enabling your provider to track your vital signs and pertinent health information without you having to schedule an appointment and drive to the office. Other telehealth services include live virtual visits with your doctor from the comfort of your home using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and Mobile Health.
Mobile Health, or mHealth, is a growing field that allows you to text or email questions or even a photo to your provider for quick answers without having to drive to the office. Some, but not all, telemedicine services are covered by Medicare.
Reach out to your health provider:
Ask your health provider what telehealth services they offer.
Medication Reminders and Dispensers Make It Easy for Seniors to Stay on Track with Meds
Everyone forgets their medication now and then. But sticking to a medication routine – also known as medication adherence – means taking the right dose at the right time in the right way and frequency is vital to maintaining good health.
The CDC estimates that drug non-adherence causes 30 to 50% of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths per year in the U.S. But don’t be frightened off from living at home or from letting your loved one live independently.
Medication dispensing systems, also called automated medication management tools, offer a secure and straightforward way for caregivers to manage medication for their loved ones. They are especially helpful for aging adults with memory problems.
Think of these devices as a souped-up version of plastic pill organizers that come with compartments for medications that need to be taken each day of the week. These new high-tech devices offer reminders for when to take your medicine and then dispense the correct dose. Some pill dispensers also offer monitoring options for caregivers who want to keep track of their loved ones’ medication adherence for peace of mind. To find out the latest reviews on some of the best pill reminders out there.
Devices and apps that older adults can use for socializing and learning
It’s no secret that older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) found that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.
Fortunately, technology offers seniors limitless opportunities to connect with friends and family. Video chatting tools such as Zoom and FaceTime are relatively easy to set up and use and can help older adults stay in touch with their family and friends.
Another way to combat loneliness and boredom is a voice-activated personal assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa, or Echo Dot. This device can be helpful to seniors living alone—both as a tool and a digital companion. Ask Alexa to play a game, read the news, or start a shopping list. She can also tell you a riddle or teach you a new vocabulary word every day.
Devices such as the Echo Dot can also work as a smart home hub that connects to smart lights, sensors, switches, door locks, and many other gadgets, allowing a senior to easily control their home devices by voice command. Learn about some of the latest tech devices for seniors.
Technology learning resources for seniors
The first step to utilizing technology to so that living at homes continues to be a safe and positive experience is getting comfortable with technology. While many seniors recognized the benefits that technology offers when it comes to aging in place, they are often intimidated and reluctant to use it.
According to Pew Research, about only 26% of those 65 and over say they feel confident when it comes to using electronic devices or the Internet. Fortunately, training resources can help seniors become more comfortable with high tech services and digital devices. Some of these resources include:
OATS, or Older Adult Technology Services, with a location in Denver that serves Colorado residents that are over 60. The organization offers things like free computer classes and tech help as well as a way to socialize and connect with members of the community.
Another organization, Tech Boomers offers over 100 free courses with thousands of step-by-step tutorials and informational articles that can help you learn anything and everything about the Internet’s most popular websites and apps.
Oasis Lifelong Adventure is a nonprofit organization that offers online technology classes for seniors that cover various topics, including smartphone use, online safety, and Google drive.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out your local library, including Denver’s library system.