Harnessing Technology Will be Critical to Promoting Senior Health
In your experience, what are some good examples of health and housing working together in ways that have promoted positive outcomes for seniors? What has made these programs successful? View the full forum.
By Khaila Montgomery
As the U.S. population continues to age, the need for affordable and supportive housing increases. According to the National Council on Aging, 92 percent of seniors have at least one chronic disease. Thus, seniors will require long-term care coordination and support services to help them age in their homes and communities.
Responding to this need, organizations such as The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS) are designing innovative programs that bring care and service coordination to seniors where they live. GSS launched the LivingWell@Home program, which combines technology with remote patient monitoring to promote the health of seniors in assisted living residences as well as at home.
The program monitors vital signs as well as patterns of daily living activities through a mixture of telehealth technology, sensor technology, and a personal emergency response system. A team of registered nurses and data review specialists analyzes the data on each patient to identify emerging problems that could lead to long-term hospitalizations. The program serves as an intermediary between seniors and their primary care physicians, tracking their health and providing relevant data to doctors as well as educating seniors about caring for their health conditions.
LivingWell@Home prevented an emergency room visit and potential hospitalization for a 68-year-old diabetic senior who forgot her insulin syringes while on a family vacation. Nurses monitoring the senior’s care were able to notice the spike in her glucose levels and get in contact with her to discuss the cause as well as offer a solution. The remote monitoring system allowed an intervention to occur prior to a hospitalization and provided the senior with a solution that was sensitive to her economic needs while prioritizing her health.
The LivingWell@Home program currently serves over 1,300 seniors through assisted living residences, home care, housing with services and care coordination programs. With the aid of the technology, one nurse can monitor 400 seniors daily. The program’s success resides in the personalized health care offered to patients coupled with the skill of the nursing and data specialists to recognize emerging problems and intervene accordingly. GSS is capitalizing on the wealth of new technology to offer chronic disease management to seniors that will enable them not only to age in their homes but also to do so as independently and comfortably as possible.
Harnessing technology to improve the health and living conditions of seniors—with an emphasis on wellness and not illness—represents a tangible solution to some of the pressing concerns emerging with an aging population.
Khaila Montgomery is the housing intern at the Bipartisan Policy Center
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