“My mother’s doctor started offering telehealth appointments for follow-ups and medicine refills. Is this just a gimmick, or is telemedicine for seniors worth considering?” –Rick from East Cobb

As the pandemic persists and flu season is just beginning, you and your loved one may not want to go to every medical appointment in person. Virtual health visits are another tool to help older people seek medical treatment while minimizing exposure to viruses. Let’s look at some of the advantages of telemedicine for seniors and why it may be a good choice for your loved one.

What Is Telemedicine for Seniors?

You are probably familiar with video chatting because of either working remotely or connecting to friends and family during the height of the pandemic. This technology allows people to see each other and talk from separate locations, thus maintaining a physical distance.
In health care, telemedicine makes the most of video chatting, texting, and phone conversations to address chronic health conditions, request prescription refills, or follow up on lab results. For seniors, telemedicine keeps patients and medical providers connected and may even prevent hospital stays by reaching out to physicians before symptoms get out of hand.

Virtual health visits make up only a fraction of total medical appointments, but they allow both patients and physicians a convenient way to receive medical care when an in-person appointment may be difficult to obtain. Telemedicine can be synchronous, a real-time video visit, or asynchronous, including text messaging or email communication.

How Is Telemedicine Helpful?

While not every medical appointment is appropriate for virtual consultations, some visits are a good fit. Managing your loved one’s medications, for example, may be just as effective using telemedicine as it can be in person, and you do not have to worry about forgetting to take along every prescription or supplement.

Virtual visits may also work well for an initial consultation with a medical specialist or a follow-up appointment for a chronic condition, especially if you do not expect any additional lab work or tests. Some doctors may ask you to track blood pressure or weight at home and report this information through a patient portal. You can also submit photo images of mole changes or rashes to give your physician enough information to develop a treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits of Virtual Visits?

Taking your loved one to the doctor is not always an easy task. Your senior may have mobility issues that require a wheelchair or other assistive device, making it a challenge to go to a physician’s office. Transportation may also be an issue, especially when you need to work and your loved one no longer drives.

Once at the doctor’s office, you may have long wait times around other patients, exposing you and your loved one to illnesses. After your visit, you have to maneuver your loved one back to the car and home again, not to mention a stop at the pharmacy on the way.
With telemedicine for seniors, you can skip the drive, the waiting room, and the unintended exposure to germs. You or a caregiver can assist your loved one with the entire process, from setting up an online account in the patient portal to ensuring the Wi-Fi connection works during the visit.

Care managers also appreciate virtual visits because it allows them to attend with the patient in a safe environment without the added time and expense for the commute. It’s an excellent way to keep everyone on the same page about any medical conditions or treatment plans for your loved one.

How Do Seniors Like Telemedicine?

Some seniors prefer the convenience of staying at home to see their doctors. They may also feel less rushed because their medical provider sits and listens rather than running from the exam room to the next patient.

Virtual visits can also be helpful for you because your loved one may not mind having you in the room, which gives you a chance to hear what the physician actually says or ask questions of your own about your senior’s health.

Be sure to make a list of questions and prepare before a telehealth visit to make the most of your virtual time. You may find the convenience of telemedicine for seniors makes it worth the effort to coordinate and attend these appointments with your loved one.

Good luck!


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