Pause for a moment to “think forward.” Do you have a mental image of yourself at age 85? Are you living in your current home when you’re 85? Are you independently going to the grocery store, fixing your own meals, participating in your weekly bridge games and dinner with friends, maybe taking care of your spouse, navigating throughout your home, and so on? It’s reasonable to believe that your answer is “yes” to most or all of these questions. The great majority of those who have reached the age of 85 are living in their homes and communities – not in nursing homes, assisted living or other alternative housing locations. However, with time, some support may be needed.
When is the right time? And what is the right care? Most often these decisions are dictated by health conditions which are often unforeseen. When you’re 85, might you have some hearing loss, some difficulty with mobility and stairs, high blood pressure, another chronic disease such as arthritis or heart disease? It wouldn’t be uncommon for you to have 2-3 of these “co-existing” conditions while living independently in your home.
And who will provide your care? According to an article in the AAMC Report, April 2015, by Aliyah Baruchin, “The statistics tell the story. By 2025 the number of Americans over the age of 65 will nearly double, making them the fastest growing age group in the country. Providing quality medical care for these seniors will require a certified geriatrician population of 25,000 according to The American Geriatrics Society, but as of 2014, there were fewer than 7,500 geriatricians in the United States. Only eight of the country’s 145 academic medical centers have full geriatrics departments, and only 44 percent of the nation’s 353 geriatric fellowship positions are filled.”
When access to responsive care at the right time and in the right place is the most important – in our later years – it can be the most difficult to accomplish. Could one solution to the challenges of geriatric care be the adoption of telemedicine to bridge-the-gap and bring medical care closer to the patient? There’s no better time than the present to talk with your health care provider(s) about your expectations for care as you age. Do they have special training in geriatric care? Do they understand your goals for independent living? Are they aware of supportive resources in the community? Are they accepting of technological approaches to support health care delivery?
Plan ahead to achieve your individual expectations for successful aging -- you are your own best advocate! View informative videos and learn more about telemedicine at: http://www.americantelemed.org/about-telemedicine/what-is-telemedicine#.V1sFmY-cGM8.
Or check out Optimized Care Network's answer here: http://www.optimizedcare.net