For the elderly who are trying to age in place, and for the disabled, virtual companion care has become more and more crucial to their well-being.
Modern technology affords options that people didn’t have in decades past. The ability to communicate with others at any time over large distances virtually is unprecedented. Virtual companion care is a new option for older people with particular needs. It complements traditional forms of elderly care, such as in-home or nursing home care.
Virtual companion care is the use of screen-based technology devices to communicate with patients in various ways. Devices used for this purpose include smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Ways to use virtual companion care include:
Family members who have elderly loved ones in nursing home facilities may give them virtual companion care devices, such as tablets, to stay in touch.
Moreover, professional healthcare providers may allocate virtual care devices to elderly patients who are home alone. Healthcare providers can then perform check-ups, provide medical advice, or remind elderly patients who may have memory issues to take their medication.
Some services even offer virtual companion care in digital avatars, which are virtual 3D models of humans or animals. An elderly patient can interact with these digital avatars by asking questions, playing games, or receiving advice. Usually, there is a team of professionals behind these avatars that are facilitating the interactions.
Having a virtual companion is an excellent complement to traditional forms of eldercare. Research into these benefits is growing as virtual care becomes more common.
Patients receiving virtual companion care are less prone to loneliness, which largely inflicts elderly who have lost a partner or who live alone at home or in a nursing facility. Being able to instantly initiate a video call with family members, healthcare providers, or digital avatars alleviates the sense of loneliness.
Additionally, there are several moments in a day where an at-home nurse cannot be with a patient in their home. For this reason, being able to initiate contact with a healthcare provider during an emergency is a critical option to have.
Particularly in the age of a pandemic, healthcare providers must have a way to interact with elderly patients at a distance. COVID-19 has proven to be far more dangerous to those over the age of 60, and those with preexisting conditions.
In terms of cost benefits, virtual companion care can potentially save patients hundreds of dollars per month. Fewer physical visits from in-home eldercare nurses or medical providers mean less money paid out per day on that specific health care service.
After learning about the benefits, some may wonder if their health insurance or long term care (LTC) insurance covers virtual companion care.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance, for instance, is a type of private insurance that many people approaching old age opt in to. LTC insurance allows people to receive monthly payouts that go toward health services. But does LTC cover virtual companion care?
Since the idea of virtual companion care is relatively new, most financial assistance plans do not explicitly mention whether or not it’s covered. However, an LTC company that offers “consumer direct” payouts may allow people to spend as they please on various types of eldercare.
There are also specialized companies that offer packages for virtual care services. Often the virtual companion care devices are included in the service packages. One can expect to pay upwards of $300 per month for a virtual companion care package through a company.
Furthermore, due to COVID-19, many home care service providers may already have virtual care implemented in their services as a way to reduce contact. So as long as your LTC insurance covers the healthcare provider, virtual companion care may come as a default.
Still not sure if you’re covered? Family Solutions for Care can help you wade through all the terminology in your long term care insurance plan and get to the answer you need for yourself or your senior loved one.
For better or worse, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many industries have moved toward telepresence in some form. In healthcare, this means that doctor visits are increasingly becoming virtual, especially for the elderly who are more vulnerable to the ravages of the Coronavirus disease.
This means that those in need of senior care may benefit from virtual companion care more readily. After all, virtual companion care can be a great addition to traditional elderly care methods.
Being able to conveniently open face-to-face communication with a loved one who is miles away is a powerful ability. And for those undergoing elderly care from the comfort of their homes, having the option to interact with healthcare providers on a whim means ease of mind.
When researching long-term care solutions, be sure to consider virtual companion care. Not only could it save you thousands of dollars per year, but it could also help your loved one feel more connected and safer.