About 17% of the American population is aged 65 and above, making it one in every six individuals. Amongst them, 5.6 million older adults have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. By 2060, it is estimated that over 14 million adults will fall prey to these diseases.
That is where adult-geriatric or geriatric care nurses are required. They help improve the well-being of older patients by providing high-quality nursing care.
But with the advent of telehealth and virtual services, the geriatric care field was propelled into a dilemma. About 18% of older adults do not have access to internet and technology.
However, due to the pandemic, some older adults started relying on technology. This created an avenue for the healthcare industry to market telehealth to geriatric patients. Read on to learn about the relationship between geriatric care and telehealth.
The Relationship Between Telehealth and Geriatric Care
Nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing with an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner or MSN-AGPCNP certification can help provide high-quality care for older patients. These courses usually have 18 semesters that include 46 credit hours and 750 clinical hours.
According to the University of Indianapolis, these programs can channel students’ clinical skills. Hence, their knowledge of advanced practice will increase. It can help geriatric nursing aspirants find their place in primary care. Irrespective of the degrees and the nurse’s abilities, gerontology was always a physical form of care.
However, studies show that telehealth visits have increased in older adults, even if barriers remain. The gerontology sector owes this explosion to the pandemic. During that time, the adoption of telehealth increased for non-urgent geriatric patients.
The Positives of Virtual Geriatric Care
Geriatric and adult-geriatric nurses can deliver consistent care to patients through technology platforms. For example, these nurses can assist older patients from their offices if they can handle the matter virtually.
Geriatric patients can use telehealth to seek holistic services and care every week. Virtual treatment can also remove the risk of traveling for vulnerable patients.
The Negatives of Virtual Geriatric Care
Not everything is positive when it comes to telehealth. For example, nurses cannot offer help to patients with cognitive challenges in a virtual setting. Of course, doctors and nurses cannot perform virtual examinations on patients during an emergency.
Other than these challenges, the most notable one is the lack of experience with technology for older patients. Some patients are not well-versed with technology. Hence, they might not benefit from a virtual visit. There can be software-related privacy concerns, as well.
2 Ways to Make Virtual Geriatric Care Easy
The acceleration in the virtual geriatric care avenue has given rise to various negative aspects. There are two ways healthcare institutions and geriatric nurses can help mitigate these:
#1. Accommodating Technology
Not all geriatric patients will be familiar with technology. That is why nurses should keep the patient’s experience straightforward if telehealth is a necessity. For example, if the healthcare institute can develop simple, clear, and easy-to-handle interfaces, patients will not feel overwhelmed.
The geriatric sector should accommodate their technology based on age-related cognitive or sensory impairments of their patients. There should not be any technical wording that is hard for the patient to understand in the telehealth software.
#2. Educating Patients
According to a report, telehealth usage in gerontology can only be successful if older patients are educated properly. Healthcare institutes and geriatric nurses should take steps to train patients on using their telehealth software. Doing so will help comfort the patients and they will be familiar with the interface.
As a result, nurses will be able to perform remote assessments through virtual visits. Most institutions should dedicate enough time to assess the issues faced by geriatric patients. Doing so will help improve their healthcare technology and transition smoothly towards telehealth.
How Can Telehealth Improve Geriatric Patient Care?
Geriatric nurses can provide telehealth support to patients requiring palliative and transitional care. They can also use virtual interfaces to provide chronic disease management.
Telehealth reduces the patient’s burden of traveling and unnecessary visits. Virtual geriatric care saves both the patient and nurses a lot of time.
Moreover, telehealth can improve patient satisfaction. It can also reduce the stress of at-home caregivers. Geriatric patients will have access to nursing 24×7 with telehealth.
The Bottom Line
Adult-geriatric or geriatric care and telehealth might change the way nurses offer care to older patients. There is a need for affordable elderly care, and telehealth can help with that.
In geriatric care, telehealth can reduce the burden of commuting. Hence, it can improve patient satisfaction.
The healthcare industry should educate geriatric patients about the technology. Moreover, they should take precautions while accommodating technology. Only then can technology become a good thing in gerontology.