Telemedicine in Life Stages: Middle-aged adults

Aug 13, 2019 / Telemedicine technology /
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This edition of the Telemedicine in Life Stages series will dive into the next stage of life in regard to middle-aged adults and the role telehealth plays in their care continuum.

Over the last decade, technology has completely transformed the way we go about our everyday lives. Since it's all the younger population has ever known, it's easier for adolescents and teens to get on board with digital assets in the world of health care. However, telemedicine is a tool that can benefit anyone down the life cycle, regardless of age, and older adults are becoming more inclined to consider this option. In fact, a survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that more than half of Americans over the age of 40 feel comfortable using a video service for a medical consultation, and 88% would feel comfortable using telemedicine to receive care and manage chronic illness.

As a part of the Telemedicine in Life Stages series, we recently covered adolescents and young adults. This edition will dive into the next stage of life in regard to older adults and the role telehealth plays in the care continuum, touching on common conditions that become more prevalent at this age such as concerns with cardiovascular health, obesity and dementia risks.

Cardiovascular health

Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels have a major impact on the heart; both are associated with cardiovascular health issues that could lead to heart attack, stroke, heart disease or even death.

Patients with any of these conditions may find themselves in and out of the doctor's office - or even worse, the hospital - when health concerns arise. According to a study by the College of Health Professions at Texas State University, however, telemedicine has the ability to reduce hospitalizations and readmission rates and improve health outcomes and overall patient satisfaction. This is due to the opportunity to monitor outpatient care from remote or rural areas since distance is a common barrier that keeps patients from receiving the assistance they need.

Telemedicine can keep patients with cardiovascular issues out of the hospital.
Telemedicine can keep patients with cardiovascular issues out of the hospital.

Obesity

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reported that the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found more than 1 in 3 adults were considered overweight, while 2 in 3 adults were considered obese. This issue is commonly associated with unhealthy eating and physical inactivity, but may also be due to uncontrollable factors like genes, medical illnesses and medications.

With so many individuals affected by this condition, more people should focus on getting resources to better their overall health. The idea of eating well and exercising more isn't enough; patients need guidance to address the issue of obesity. Telemedicine has the ability to do just this: A recent study published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare found that 69% of patients who followed a 12-week telehealth-based weight loss program saw significant weight loss. One of the main features of the program was health coaching via video conference, which enabled patients to reach out to dietitians and other medical professionals to stay on track. A key element to the success of this type of program is having the flexibility to see patients on demand via a telehealth application where patients can connect with a clinician on the spot or scheduled a future virtual appointment.

Dementia

While dementia is most common in older adults aged 65 and above, it's not just a disease of old age. According to the Alzheimer's Association, around 5% of the 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease have younger onset dementia, affecting hundreds of thousands of adults in their 40s and 50s.

Dementia patients, especially those in the early stages of the disease, can benefit from receiving care via telemedicine. It enables them to go to a nearby clinic and gain immediate access to a specialist who may be too far away to meet face-to-face. This allows dementia patients to receive the care they need without worrying about the barrier of distance, which also alleviates the burden of timely travel on caregivers.

Telemedicine and telehealth technologies remove some of the barriers for adults with chronic conditions and enables them to receive proper and timely care. Leveraging a virtual care model allows healthcare professionals to improve patient engagement, make more informed decisions on patient care and increase the continuity of care. If you're interested in providing a more convenient option for your patient population, reach out to AMD Global Telemedicine.

Check back next time for the fourth and final edition of the Telemedicine in Life Stages series, where we'll address telemedicine and its impact on elderly care.

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