Technology has unquestionably enhanced many parts of life, particularly in terms of access to health care services. Telehealth services have been around for a long time but have only recently gained popularity owing to ongoing lockdowns, social isolation, and technological improvements. In fact, a public opinion poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association revealed that 82 percent of people used telehealth services for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Telehealth can take many forms but generally refers to any sort of medical treatment delivered by technology. 

Geriatric medicine has started to use multiple technologies to continually enhance elderly care and meet the demands of the aging demographic. Using telehealth, older adults (aged 65+) can continue to receive care while remaining safe in their own homes. For example, teletherapy and online therapy techniques are proven to be useful in improving the quality of life among people with chronic pain. Teletherapy is a great option for those who are unable to attend traditional therapy owing to a lack of mobility, a lack of health facilities, privacy concerns, and so on.

Uses of Teletherapy in Geriatric Care

According to the Census Bureau,  24 percent of the United States' population are over 60 years old and one in every five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030. Older adults, according to America's Health Rankings, experience more complicated health issues due to life situations such as aging-related chronic diseases, food insecurity, a need for a safe home, insufficient sleep, and lack of access to medical attention. Teletherapy encourages longevity and a healthy lifestyle in general by providing educational techniques to help the elderly reinvent their lives, resulting in a higher quality of life. A step-by-step teletherapy technique enables a therapist to use behavioral adjustments to help with personality changes, as well as re-adjust the strategy if cognitive abilities decline over time.

Teletherapy for Rehabilitation and Mobility

Physical therapy and occupational therapy programs, despite their many similarities, take distinct approaches to each patient's rehabilitative care. The former focuses on increasing the person's physical ability, whereas the latter focuses on improving his or her ability to do daily tasks. A physical therapist has virtual sessions with senior patients at their homes to help them improve their strength, balance, and endurance, as well as advise them on how to avoid physical risks and lower their chance of falling. Telehealth initiatives in the field of occupational therapy are utilized to provide fall prevention methods, safety interventions, and health education to at-risk adults with disabilities who are living in their homes.  

Teletherapy for Mental Health

People normally endure moderate mental deterioration as they age, but some individuals get dementia, which causes functional impairment as well as depression, paranoia, and anxiety. A telehealth-based Care Ecosystem successfully enhanced physical health, energy levels, cognition, and relationships in a study involving 780 caregivers and seniors with dementia. In addition, caregiver depression was shown to be lower in the research, as was the number of emergency room visits. A patient survey analysis of the rise of telehealth in the United States also discovered that 45 percent of older adults strongly believed that their telehealth visit provided them with a sense of access and continuity of care. According to the same survey's findings, 30 percent of older adults agree and 40 percent strongly agree that they will use telehealth services in the future.

Teletherapy for Speech and Swallowing

Speech therapy can assist older persons who find chewing and swallowing laborious, who have coughing fits before, during, or after swallowing, or whose voice quality has deteriorated. Apraxia, dysphagia, and orofacial maillot functional abnormalities are just a few of the conditions that can impact swallowing and speaking. Patients with these illnesses have problems with basic muscle motions, which affects their ability to communicate by making it more difficult to articulate words and swallow. Teletherapy has the potential to be a feasible and possibly effective method of improving attrition and enhancing care partner involvement. Teletherapy programs, for example, have demonstrated significant clinical gains in standardized performance for stroke survivors with persistent speech impairment.

Delivery Mediums

Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technology to assist long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health management, according to the Health Resources Services Administration. Virtual visits, chat-based interactions, remote patient monitoring, and technology-enabled modalities are the most frequently used telehealth techniques, according to the American Telemedicine Association. Patients can use a mix of audio, video, and text communication tools to experiment with multiple formats and find the medium that best suits their needs.

There is a great deal of research that shows how technology can improve the lives of older adults. This involves enhancing people's everyday routines and behaviors, as well as their cognitive performance, physical and emotional health. An analysis of telehealth treatment satisfaction levels in the United States between 2020 and 2021 additionally found that 34 percent of older adults were satisfied and 44 percent were very satisfied with the care they got.


Telehealth services eliminate the need for in-person appointments, cut healthcare costs, reduce costly emergency department visits, and increase patient satisfaction. Families may need to rely on such services to care for their loved ones as they age. Security and social support, sufficient training for geriatric care workers, promotion of excellent mental and physical health, and community initiatives can all contribute to meeting the requirements of the elderly.

Note: Telehealth coverage and payment policies vary by where the patient is located (in their home or in a facility) and by type of insurance coverage as well as state law. Providers should confirm with these entities prior to furnishing telehealth services.

Mark Taylor is a writer covering health care issues that affect the geriatric population.