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During the pandemic, millennials became the largest group of caregivers, and it also highlighted the quintessential role of caregiving and technology. Many families found themselves faced with having to care for elderly parents rather than forgo seeing them for an undetermined period of time, which turned out to be well in excess of a year. So, decisions were made to become multigenerational households. Families expanded to include school-aged children learning remotely and elderly parents often needing care. Stress levels were elevated as family dynamics took a different path. Once the pandemic ended, families discovered the cost of senior facilities had skyrocketed. It was no longer financially feasible to return elderly parents to assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. Households remain multigenerational.
In my book, One Caregiver’s Journey, I share how I began using a home-based physician service when my mother could no longer go to doctor appointments. There comes a time when moving elderly parents in and out of their homes to appointments in various medical facilities becomes stressful and often difficult. A physician, physician assistant, or a nurse came to my home once a month to visit my mother and complete routine health checks.
If my mother was ill in between visits, they would come and assess the situation and order tests or medication.
It was a wonderful learning experience for me as I became far more proficient in my caregiving. The pandemic changed all of that as in-home visits ceased, as did many services for the elderly, such as adult day care.
Hospice visits continued but were controlled with nurses wearing masks and very few masked family members in the home during the visit.
Unlike when I was caregiving, millennial caregivers rely heavily on social media for information and support, for the millennial caregiving and technology go hand-in-hand. They were instrumental in expanding the use of technology during and after the pandemic. Some of the newest trends in caregiving and technology can be found in the medical field. The Millennial generation can take a bow for many of the advances in technology during the Covid shutdown. It is through this expanded technology that millennials can work in flexible industries and care for loved ones at the same time.
There are mountains of resources for information and assistance in caring for both the young and the elderly. The result has been an explosion of technological developments.
Telehealth and telemedicine are increasingly in demand and are one of the most used in caregiving and technology. With more people adopting a new way of working and living, this convenient trend is likely to gain momentum. The global telemedicine market is projected to grow from $ 68.36 billion today to $ 218.49 billion by 2026. Telemedicine encompasses a broad variety of technologies to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. This technology offers a wide range of benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. Patients can participate in a visit with a doctor via computer or make an appointment for anyone in their family. They don’t need to encounter any secondary costs such as travel expenses or childcare. Elderly adults may be geographically isolated or unable to leave their homes, as my mother was. By talking to a doctor online, it lessens exposure to illness and infections of people in an office and offers flexibility to doctors.
An adjunct to telehealth is the ability to access test results via health portals or send a non-urgent medical message/question to a doctor. These sites also send reminders if we need a vaccine if bloodwork is necessary to review the efficiency of medicines, and whether we have an unpaid bill. We are not holding a telephone and listening to music while waiting for someone to provide information; it is at our fingertips.
There was much angst in the world when the initial COVID-19 vaccines were developed. People had no idea how they were being developed so quickly, with little testing of what was in them or the long-term effects they’d have on our health. Today, rapid vaccine technology allows scientists to develop vaccines based on proteins in the human body, allowing it to produce an immune response to a disease. The science is human-based and not taking a current vaccine and experimenting with alternative substances. Today, rapid vaccine technology is also used to develop treatments for other diseases. Medications once used to treat common conditions such as Crohn’s Disease that caused terrible side effects have been replaced with much safer infusions for disease treatments that produce long-term results.
This means people can live more normal lives.
Finally, technology can be found in the number of health wearable devices available today. The first devices could be synced with our smartphones to count our steps and keep track of heart health, sleep, and everything fitness. With an aging population, wearable devices can assist in the prevention and monitoring of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The makers of various models of smartwatches are currently working to integrate sensors for blood glucose measurement into the devices. Technological advances don’t stop with devices worn; microcomputers that work from inside the body are used to help organs such as the heart and brain function. Implanted cardiac monitors are not new. Implanted devices to eliminate the need for bulky machines to sleep are relatively new.