Health Life

Telehealth visits have skyrocketed for older adults, but some concerns and barriers remain

Key findings about the use of telehealth by older adults in 2020, compared with 2019. Credit: University of Michigan

One in four older Americans had a virtual medical visit in the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of them by video, a new telehealth poll finds. That’s much higher than the 4% of people over 50 who said they had ever had a virtual visit with a doctor in a similar poll taken in 2019.

Comfort levels with telehealth, also called telemedicine, have also increased. Back in 2019, most older adults expressed at least one serious concern about trying a telehealth visit. But by mid-2020, the percentage with such concerns had eased, especially among those who had experienced a virtual visit between March and June of this year.

Yet not all older adults see virtual care as an adequate substitute for in-person care, even in a pandemic, the National Poll on Healthy Aging findings show.

And 17% of people over 50 still say they have never used any sort of video conferencing tool for any reason, including medical care. While that’s 11 percentage points lower than in the 2019 , that lack of experience or access could be a barrier to receiving care without having to leave home as the pandemic continues to surge in dozens of states.

Both the 2019 and 2020 polls were done for the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation with support from AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center. Both involved a national sample of more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80.

“These findings have implications for the who have ramped up telehealth offerings rapidly, and for the insurance companies and government agencies that have quickly changed their policies to cover virtual visits,” says Laurie

Health article

Grief and Loss | CDC

If you have lost a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic

Grieving the loss of a loved one while coping with the fear and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic can be especially overwhelming.  Social distancing, “stay-at home-orders,” and limits on the size of in-person gatherings have changed the way friends and family can gather and grieve, including holding traditional funeral services, regardless of whether or not the person’s death was due to COVID-19.   However, these types of prevention strategies are important to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Some actions you can take to help you cope with feelings of grief after the loss of a loved include:

  • Connecting with other people
    • Invite people to call you or host conference calls with family members and friends to stay connected.
    • Ask family and friends to share stories and pictures with you via mailed letters, email, phone, or video chat or via apps or social media that allow groups to share with each other (e.g., group chat, group messaging, Facebook).
    • Coordinate a date and time for family and friends to honor your loved one by reciting a selected poem, spiritual reading, or prayer within their own households.
  • Creating memories or rituals.
    • Develop a virtual memory book, blog, or webpage to remember your loved one, and ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories.
    • Take part in an activity, such as planting a tree or preparing a favorite meal, that has significance to you and the loved one who died.
  • Asking for help from others
    • Seek out grief counseling or mental health services, support groups, or hotlines, especially those that can be offered over the phone or online.
    • Seek spiritual support from faith-based organizations, including your religious leaders and congregations, if applicable.
    • Seek support from other trusted community leaders and