Telemedicine expands access to care for those with Alzheimer's

elderly person using a laptop


June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, a time to share information and recognize the 55 million people worldwide that are living with Alzheimer's or dementia and their caregivers. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases. While symptoms generally start as mild, they evolve to cause confusion, disorientation, and mood and behavior changes, eventually becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

While Alzheimer's, unfortunately, has no cure, some treatments and therapies are proving to be impactful. However, getting patients to visit doctors can become more complex as the disease progresses. First, dementia patients tend to be older and often have mobility issues. As the disease advances, they may forget they have an appointment or may no longer be able to drive to take transit safely. If a patient happens to be in a senior care facility, it is not always guaranteed that a neurological provider will be on staff; with ongoing pandemic concerns for the elderly and a shortage of qualified providers, bringing specialists in-house has become increasingly challenging. 

Many dementia patients, their caregivers, and their care facilities have turned to telemedicine. Alzheimer's and other cognitive conditions are, in most circumstances, easily assessed using virtual visits. For these cases, telemedicine is especially valuable when utilized alongside a face-to-face care team, whether in a facility or in conjunction with a clinical physician, as a teleneurologist can assess the patient's level of dementia and provide helpful information to others issuing care.

With an aging population, degenerative conditions continue to rise while qualified physicians become scarce; however, telemedicine can bridge a gap in care. A well-managed teleneurology program can make an impactful difference in the quality of care received for patients while healthcare facilities make up for doctor shortages and better utilize their staff. 


Telemedicine reaches patients 

Many patients have difficulty getting to a doctor because of distance circumstances. For those with neurological conditions, the challenges increase tenfold. With the use of telemedicine, a patient can easily see a specialist that could be hundreds of miles away while skipping the long drive or lengthy wait time. Furthermore, with conditions such as Alzheimer's, early treatment is vital. Therefore, having the ability to see a doctor quickly and regularly could make a big difference in the development of a patient’s diagnosis.


Telemedicine builds trust

For those with dementia, it is reported that sticking to a routine may help aid in muscle memory and provide a sense of autonomy and comfort. Virtual appointments with the same physician can help build a trusting relationship between patients and their care team. The right telemedicine provider can ensure that the same providers manage patients throughout their care journey and deliver reassurance that helps place patients at ease. 


Telemedicine creates synergy 

Working with a telemedicine provider can also create a valuable collaboration between doctors, nurses, caretakers, and other healthcare members. Together with the care team, a telemedicine physician can deliver continuity of care that may not be found in a rushed face-to-face environment (like an emergency room). This coalition enables those involved to create a more reasonable treatment strategy.


Telemedicine reduces ER visits 

It is estimated that those with Alzheimer's and related diseases have more than triple the number of hospitalizations compared to senior adults with other types of illnesses. Adopting a telemedicine program in a care facility or clinic has been shown to reduce emergency department visits, lessen readmissions, and improve the probability of medication compliance through regular follow-up care. 


Telemedicine results in better outcomes for everyone

Today, researchers are working tirelessly to uncover the mystery of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. While many approaches are being investigated around the world, it remains clear that early and regular treatment is vital. Telemedicine is part of the solution, delivering better patient outcomes, removing barriers to care, and lessening the load placed on medical facilities and caregivers. Please contact us if you want to learn more about how teleneurology can make a difference to your practice and your patients. 

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