COVID-19 has impacted the lives of seniors dramatically, but not everything that happened since the onset of the pandemic has been negative. The isolation that came with protecting themselves from the virus made it crucial for seniors to become more comfortable using technology.
According to an AARP survey, those 50+ increased their use of technology since 2019 significantly, including video chatting (up 45%), texting (up 37%), emailing (26%) and use of cell phones (29%). In addition, seniors learned how to order groceries online, began using wearable devices to monitor their health, and employed apps and websites for their banking needs.
Tech-savvy seniors are discovering the convenient and time-saving aspects of using their phone, TV and computer to manage everyday life, and this new comfort with technology is coinciding with the latest tech-based advances in health care.
Telehealth can be a game-changer
The growing level of comfort seniors have with technology may be most important for their health care. For older adults and their caregivers, access to doctors can be difficult even in the best of situations. However, when seniors have mobility challenges, chronic pain, memory disorders or any other illness that restricts their movement or requires a device to aid in getting around, going to a doctor’s office for an in-person visit can be exhausting and frustrating.
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, transportation is one of the biggest challenges for many seniors who need to see a doctor. Many no longer drive, and bus service may not be an option, depending on where they live. Taxis and on-demand car services like Uber can be expensive, and it can be awkward or even impossible to take walkers and wheelchairs in a car. And while some caregivers have cars, not all do.
Telehealth has proven to be a welcome addition to many seniors’ health care programs. Independa, an award-winning TV-based platform that encourages remote engagement, conducted a survey and found that having a virtual option for doctor’s office visits was a significant contributor to helping adults feel more comfortable about the well-being of their older adult parents.
When asked what telehealth features they most appreciated, 69.5% preferred the comfort and convenience of telehealth, nearly two-thirds (62.8%) shared they were thankful to save travel time, and over half (55%) preferred telehealth to avoid contracting infectious diseases like COVID-19.
On-demand telehealth on your TV
Independa has developed an interactive on-demand TV-based health hub now available on LG smart TVs. With the press of a button, seniors and their caregivers can keep an appointment with their doctor without the need for meeting websites. Eliminating the extra step of logging in and setting up your computer for a telehealth visit and simply using the Independa app means that even the most tech-shy older adult can easily adapt to this option on their TV.
The app also offers access to many other services, including:
- Dentulu (online dental consultation)
- Capital Rx (discount pharmacy platform)
- Coverdell (dental insurance benefits)
- WebMD (medical-grade educational videos)
- Sprio100 (fitness programs for seniors)
If your senior has grown familiar with Amazon shopping during the pandemic, they’ll appreciate its telehealth program, Amazon Care. One of the most valuable aspects of Amazon Care is the option to have a nurse practitioner visit your home for medical issues that can’t be resolved virtually, including vaccinations and routine blood draws. When combined with the pill-pack service – which pre-packages and ships your prescriptions – Amazon Care can eliminate the need for many trips to the doctor—for everything from exams to lab work.
Amazon is rolling out the distribution of Alexa devices to select senior living communities to facilitate health care management. Each community can create its program with the Alexa technology to meet its needs.
The ways to make your senior’s life easier and services more accessible through technology will only continue to expand in the coming years. The best thing caregivers can do is help their older adults feel comfortable with all kinds of tech—from understanding how to access apps on a smart TV to using the internet for just about any type of shopping, service or information they need. They may resist at first or find it confusing, but with practice, patience and perseverance, your senior can be tech-savvy and have the world – and their medical care – at their fingertips.