Post-Pandemic Medical Care: Seniors Facing Change

Health experts have shared their professional opinions of the direction medical care for seniors is headed post-pandemic. 

“In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,” said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a think tank on aging around the world. “We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.”

Here are the top medical changes senior Americans should be aware of:

Telemedicine

Only 62 percent of people over 75 use the internet, but fewer than 28 percent are comfortable with using social media, according to data from the Pew Research Center.  

“That’s lethal in the modern age of health care,” Dychtwald said. The user age gap is decreasing as telehealth becomes more essential to healthcare. Old Americans are having to adapt and learn the technology for their health’s sake.

Dr. Ronan Factora, a geriatrician at Cleveland Clinic, reported that he did not see a single patient over the age of 60 via telemedicine before the pandemic hit in March. He predicted that by the time a COVID-19 vaccine is available, at least a third of those visits will be virtual. 

“It will become a significant part of my practice. Older patients likely will see their doctors more often than once a year for a checkup and benefit from improved overall health care, Factora added.

No more primary doctor

More regular remote care will be spread out by a team of doctors, said Greg Poland, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic. A team model of healthcare “allows me to see more patients more efficiently,” he said. “If everyone has to come to the office and wait for the nurse to bring them in from the waiting room, well, that’s an inherent drag on my productivity.”

Having more doctors might sound more complicated, but this will free speciality doctors to focus on your specific health concern rather than bouncing you from your primary care doctor to a specialist and so on. 

Vaccines administered at drugstores 

Drugstores will do more than sell over the counter drugs and administer the seasonal flu shot. Your annual vaccinations will be administered at drugstores for easier access. Dr. Factora said, “ To avoid the germs in doctors’ offices, older patients will prefer to go to drugstores for regular vaccinations.

At home testing will be done.. differently 

The pace in which technology is advancing, older Americans will be given access to their own special devices at home to regularly analyze urine and fecal samples, Dychtwald said, letting them avoid the doctor’s office. 

The anxiety of going to the doctor and contracting an infection or disease, like coronavirus, will slowly subside with the upcoming change in routine medical care for seniors, and also, for the rest of the country. 

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