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The Growth of “Telemedicine” in New York Elder Care

The face and format of New York senior care is changing with rapid speed. The most notable trend is a shift away from institutionalized nursing home care to flexible, at-home assisted support. The change has two key benefits:

(1) Cost savings, particularly for the New York Medicaid program; and
(2) Quality of life improvements, as most seniors prefer to age in place.

Pushed by the drive for more caregiving options, recent years have seen a growth in remote caregiving tools. Often referred to as “telemedicine” these technologically savvy products provide peace of mind to seniors and their families by combining the need for close, specialized medical care with the desire to avoid long-term moves into alternative facilities.

New Options for Seniors
A CNBC story from last week discussed a few of the more commonly used telemedicine tools that are working to keep seniors out of nursing homes. For example, a device called the MobileCare Monitor is being used to track potential falls remotely. The product looks like a sports watch, and, when certain movements are made indicative of a fall, a text message is automatically sent to caregivers.

Similar devices also exist to track vital signs, medicine usage, and the senior’s general well-being. Video and voice communication tools are all in use to allow caregivers up-to-date information without the need to be physically present at any given moment.

One particularly helpful feature of some smart watch-like devices involves tracking dementia patients. The tool can be programmed to automatically alert caregivers if a senior with dementia wanders outside any certain location. In addition, the tracking system can pinpoint where the senior is after leaving, so that aids can find the wandering resident quickly. Many seniors with cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia are forced to move into institutional settings specifically because of these wandering risks. All options that can provide security without requiring a move represent a big step forward in elder care.

To get a feel for the rapid growth in use of these tools, one need look no further than the financial numbers for the companies working in the field. According to a recent report, the entire telemedicine market was at $4.2 billion in 2007 and is expected to more than double in the next decade, to $8.7 billion by 2017.

To put a plan in place to ensure you or your loved ones will have options available for long-term care when/if the time comes, contact our elder law attorneys today.

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