2020 and 2021 have acted as a catalyst for all manner of changes in looking after the elderly. The health crisis highlighted our fragile senior care system, exposing an underfunded, technologically underserved, inefficient and oftentimes siloed care network.
To better understand this phenomenon stateside, Worth recently featured the long-term care facilities of Minnesota. Minnesota’s facilities were able to care for their elderly population more successfully than other states throughout the health crisis. Experts find that it’s no coincidence that the North Star State is home to medtech and healthcare titans such as Medtronic and Mayo Clinic, as well as a vibrant health-tech startup community.
New technologies are ushering in the biggest revolution in senior care. What are examples of these healthcare innovations? Let’s take a closer look below.
Personalized healthcare equipment
Seniors can have unique conditions that make it difficult for them to adjust to one-size-fits-all equipment. For example — did you know that 80-90% of wheelchair users are in a chair that doesn't fit their body? This can be dangerous for their fragile bones and muscles.
As we’ve discussed previously in Wheelchairs Come in All Styles & Sizes, recent healthcare innovations include personalized healthcare equipment. We highlighted how power wheelchairs can benefit people with cardiovascular issues and how custom manual wheelchairs are best for those with spinal cord injuries.
Every senior care facility must be equipped with a range of healthcare equipment. Thanks to developing tech, this is, fortunately, becoming more accessible as well.
It can be difficult for seniors to make their medical appointments because of a lack of mobility, companionship, or existing conditions. Thanks to telehealth, however, the elderly can gain access to healthcare services even without leaving their homes or care facilities.
Telehealth is proving consequential when treating chronic conditions like GERD or dementia, especially during the current shortage of providers. Considering Minnesota’s advanced health-tech community, remote nurse practitioner jobs in Minnesota are abundant, and the workforce is capable of expanding their services to the elderly in other
states. In particular, geriatric primary care nurse practitioners are even qualified to substitute geriatricians so that seniors can be properly diagnosed and treated without having to wait long periods for an appointment.
Telehealth patients are often requested to use an activity monitor so that their caretaker can properly manage their neuropsychiatric symptoms and their data can be accurately assessed by their provider from across the screen.
This has already shown positive results when caring for seniors with dementia. Medical experts at the University of Kansas Medical Center find that wearables can also assist in the detection and management of significant medical conditions like sleep apnea, which is common among the elderly and can affect mood and memory or even trigger heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes when left untreated. This condition is normally costly to detect, which shows us that healthcare innovations will be a revolutionary boon to cardiac care.
Virtual reality therapy takes the principles behind traditional reminiscence therapy while transforming it into a more immersive and impactful experience. The residents at Central Parke in Mason, Ohio were among the first to try out VR therapy and caretakers noted immediate effects. Here, residents decreased medication for anxiety and increased social activities.
Today, roughly a half-dozen companies focus on providing VR reminiscence therapy for seniors in care communities. One of the largest of these, Rendever, has already worked with more than 450 facilities in the United States, Canada and Australia.
We must continue to embrace technology in elderly care for both management and treatment. With more healthcare innovations, we can guarantee the quality of senior living for the next several decades.
Written exclusively for Accessableliving.com
by Anna Chesterfield