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Telecare is a useful support for healthy aging at home, but older adults should have a say in how it is used in their care

Karlsen C, Ludvigsen MS, Moe CE, et al. Experiences of community-dwelling older adults with the use of telecare in home care services: A qualitative systematic review  JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports. 2017;15(12):2913-2980.

Review question

        Do older adults using home-care services find telecare useful for healthy aging?

Background

        Home care can help older adults manage their health conditions and maintain independence, but it isn’t always able to address all of an individual’s needs.

        Telecare, which involves using technological devices to improve safety and the functionality of patients living at home by complementing what is provided through home care, is a promising solution to promote independence.

        However, there is a poor understanding of whether patients find using telecare useful in their daily lives.

How the review was done

        A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published from 2005 up to and including June 2017 was conducted.  Studies that focused on older adults using telecare for home-care service globally were included in the review.

        A total of 1,732 studies were identified in searches, and 21 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

        This review was funded by the Norwegian Science Foundation, Kvinesdal Municipality, and the health network in Lister and Lindesnes region.

What the researchers found

        The review found that many older adults think telecare can contribute to their safety and security, while supporting them to maintain their health, however, they wanted more say in how it was used. 

        Many older adults may think telecare technology is difficult to use properly, and that some types (such as alarms for those who are hearing impaired) are inappropriate for them.

        Older adults may have a concern that telecare technology could promote a negative image of aging, and portray older individuals as being frail, helpless and needing support.

Conclusion

        This review found that telecare is positively received by older adults who view it as a way to improve safety at home. However, many older adults may believe that the technology is difficult to use and inappropriately prescribed. Given patient opinions about telecare are likely diverse, researchers suggest considering individuals’ needs and involving them in decisions about whether to use telecare.




Glossary

Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

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