Post Date: September 8, 2015

Many older people struggle with depression due to a variety of reasons, but getting help for depression can be difficult due to limited mobility or access to care. Now, doctors are using telemedicine to provide patients with outstanding medical care from just about anywhere. Geographic location, mobility matters, and stigma concerns are eliminated or reduced by providing elderly patients with the access to medical care in this manner.

Study Shows Telemedicine Is Just As Effective

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that, of the 204 veterans who participated, the use of telemedicine to provide psychotherapy sessions was highly successful. These individuals were all over the age of 58. They met the qualifications for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. The patients were given interactions with doctors using this Internet-based technology. The study found that this form of treatment was considered just as effective as using in-person treatment.

Improving Access to Care for the Elderly

The use of telemedicine can provide outstanding access to patients who otherwise do not have the necessary ability to get care. In some areas, for example in the area where the study took place, an estimated 40% of individuals live in rural areas. They do not have the means to make long distance trips to receive this type of medical care.

This method still has some barriers to overcome. For example, federal and state level law changes are necessary. Providing individuals who may have mental illnesses with mobile tools can also be hard to achieve initially. Texting, though, can be an ideal tool for communications, if seniors have access and the ability to use it. In some cases, studies have found that the use of smartphones can be very helpful in determining if someone is suffering from depressive-like symptoms.

Ultimately, the use of telemedicine can be groundbreaking in providing patients with otherwise limited mobility to gain access to the care they need. It can also provide new access in an area that is often full of stigma especially in older vets.