Telehealth services may be particularly beneficial to populations who typically are underserved by health specialists, which may include:
- People for whom transportation is difficult or too expensive, or who have mobility challenges
- Family members who live in various locations
- Homebound people
Telehealth services are also useful for people who are comfortable with the technology and may prefer it to in-person counseling.
Telehealth and Rural Populations
As an NYUCI telehealth provider, you will likely be reaching out to people in a variety of settings for whom telehealth will prove advantageous. Some of these caregivers and their family members may live in metropolitan areas, geographically distant enough from your office to require telehealth. People living in rural areas, in particular, can benefit from telehealth services. There are likely to be few, if any, providers available, and driving may be difficult or contraindicated.
Rural caregivers are often reluctant to ask for help and do not want to impose on others. Rural elders are less likely to use formal services, such as paid caregivers, which can reflect privacy concerns as well as lower income, and a lack of knowledge about available resources. Here are examples:
Janna and I live in a small farming community; we both grew up farming, and even though we sold our farm many years ago, we still live in town and have our roots here. So when we learned that Janna has Alzheimer's disease, we were worried that we'd have to travel to the city for all of our medical needs. Fortunately, our local senior center told us about a program that helps caregivers connect with a counselor through videoconferencing. Our grown kids, who live in the city, can participate in the family support network too, the same way. It's been a really wonderful experience, drawing everyone closer together. I feel very supported.
When we found out that Mark has Alzheimer's, I was really panicked. I didn't know the first thing about this disease! We live in a small town, a couple hours drive from the city, and I really didn't know where to turn for more information about dementia and how to care for someone with Alzheimer's. But my cousin, who is a nurse, had heard about the NYUCI telehealth program, and I got in touch with a counselor. We meet on the computer, using video chat. We're about to have our first family meeting, and our son and daughter, who live in the city, will join us through the video technology. Our family counselor is going to tell us more about Alzheimer's, and my kids are really proud that I'm willing to use the computer and learn new ways to get together!
Su and I live in a small town, far away from the nearest city. We really like it here, being close to nature. When Su was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I was worried that I would be told that she would have to go to a nursing home right away. We are a close family and I wanted to find a way to care for her right at home. A member of our church told us about the NYUCI counseling program, but there wasn't a counselor nearby. We were glad to learn that we can communicate with the counselor using telehealth services. He has helped us so much. My son and my niece join in for the family meetings, and Ken has helped us learn more about dementia—and we've all talked about ways to care for Su so that at least for now, she can stay at home with me!
The first thing I thought when the doctor told us that Rich has Alzheimer's disease is “What am I going to do?!?” Our kids live far away in the cities, and my sister recently passed away. We have close friends and neighbors, but I didn't want to impose on them every time I needed help with Rich. Folks here are busy, either working their farms or over at the plant. But the doctor told us about the NYUCI Distance Counseling Program, and said that if we had a computer with a camera and the Internet, I could connect with a counselor in the cities, and I could even invite our kids to meet through the video connection. We had been talking about getting a tablet so that we could video chat with the kids and grandkids. So I did just that, and I'm so glad I did. My counselor was so kind and patient with me during our first online meeting, but now I feel like it's easy. And the kids are so happy because they can help me out from a distance now, in a way they didn't think they could before I joined the NYUCI Telehealth program.