Friday Five – Improving Patient Experience for Seniors
Nearly 90% of adults aged 50-80 want to live independently in their homes as long as possible and “age in place,” according to a national poll by the University of Michigan. Most cite maintaining their independence, preserving connections to their friends and communities, and avoiding higher monthly housing costs as key motivators for staying in their homes. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to hit 95 million by 2060. For this week’s Friday Five, we caught up with the experts at Connect America to highlight ways connective care technology can help make aging in place a better experience for senior adults.
Make Connecting Via Technology Easy
More than any other group during the pandemic, people over 65 embraced telehealth. And telehealth is just one way to use technology to support independent living. Half of older adults (49%) report having at least one smart home device, such as a voice control speaker. Other technologies, such as wearable trackers, personal emergency response systems (PERS) and remote patient monitoring (RPM), are readily available and can connect seniors to vital services when needed. By making these technologies easily accessible and ready-to-use right out of the box, seniors can further embrace technology that supports their independence.
Help Them Feel Secure
When seniors are home alone, PERS technology gives them, as well as loved ones, peace of mind that emergency services can be dispatched immediately if a fall or other incident occurs. This direct connection increases the probability that help can arrive in a timely fashion, greatly improving the probability of recovery. Knowing that they are connected to a team that can send help when they need it relieves some of the anxiety seniors may feel when they are living alone or home by themselves.
Help Them take Charge of their Health
By meeting seniors where they are with technology, such as RPM, they can more easily manage their own adherence to a care plan. For example, blood pressure, blood sugar, medication, and activity monitoring devices all make it easier for people to track their own health metrics, while making key data available to their providers and payers. Suppose data shows something is off, for example, when someone who typically averages 5,000 steps a day suddenly drops to under 1,000. In that case, the care team can make contact by phone or in person before the situation deteriorates. Making it easy for seniors to use monitoring technology in their homes supports proactive intervention before emergencies emerge.
Help Them Stay Socially Connected
Social isolation is as dangerous to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, according to a JAMA study. Connective technologies, such as PERS and RPM, always include a human connection, allowing users to interact with a person at any time. Once more, RPM, when combined with an AI virtual health assistant that engages with the patients, offering nudges and/or accolades and delivering the perception of being supported, can also drive a sense of personal accountability. In addition, technologies like voice-based virtual assistants can help seniors remain connected to their communities or directly with family and friends, and they also offer daily access to activities such as listening to music or the news. This can keep seniors safely connected with family, friends, and their community — all from the comfort of their homes.
Help Them Save Money
Two of the biggest financial concerns for seniors are housing and healthcare. Anything that helps seniors remain in their own homes helps them avoid the high cost – as much as $9,000 per month – of assisted-living facilities. Recently proposed federal legislation would provide tax incentives for home modifications that can make people’s homes safer and more comfortable as they age in place. In addition, providing a wider range of services that address Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), such as transportation or meal delivery, in addition to virtual and remote care technologies, delivers a comprehensive solution set for older adults to reduce cost and enhance healthcare accessibility.
About Connect America
Connect America is the leading provider of connective health solutions dedicated to empowering aging adults and vulnerable populations to live safely and independently at home. The company’s AI-assisted digital health and safety platform includes Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) solutions, Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS), Medication Management, Analytics, and SDoH support that enables continuous in-home and mobile monitoring for more timely interventions and smart escalations of care.