[March 2021 | By Eva Veitch, Region 10 Community Living Services Program Director]
We have all certainly experienced changes in our lives over the last year. COVID-19 has impacted nearly everyone in some way. The various safety measures put in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19 have increased the risk of leaving the safety of our cocoon but also the options for getting things done with minimal risk of exposure.
Clinics, physician offices, and various other healthcare providers have had to increase their use of telemedicine to continue providing care while minimizing potential exposure of patients to COVID-19. The increased usage of telemedicine has been an adjustment for many patients and healthcare providers, but perhaps it has been the greatest challenge for seniors. One of the added benefits of telemedicine is the ability of distant loved ones to zoom in during the visit to be an extra set of ears or to help advocate for aging parents during the visit with the Dr.
Telemedicine relies on access to a computer or smartphone that can connect to the internet and running necessary apps to allow video and sound to be sent and received. Computer programs and phone apps can be confusing to use and do not always work as they should, especially if someone is using an older computer or smartphone. Some seniors have personal challenges that may impair their ability to use the technology, such as vision issues, arthritis in their hands, and hearing loss. These challenges can be addressed with help from programs like the Area Agency on Aging.