The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted nursing home residents and staff since its earliest appearance in the United States. Facing the possibility that the novel coronavirus could become endemic, it’s critical to address the physical and mental wellbeing of those who live and work in nursing homes — especially by providing remote cognitive care to individuals at risk or suffering from dementia.
As virus cases around the country surge and nursing home and long-term care facility protocols limit their facilities to residents and staff only, the growing effects of social isolation are becoming more clear.
Increased physical and mental health risks
Because nursing homes care for an especially vulnerable population of older adults, their patients are much more constrained than those in acute care settings. Further isolation from lack of communal gatherings (meals, resident activities) and loved ones not being allowed to visit add significant mental health strain for nursing home residents.
Specific areas of concern include:
Socially isolated residents may become more anxious and depressed, and are also at greater risk for falls and hospitalization. Residents with dementia and confused by disruption to their daily routines may exhibit behavioral issues.
Greater risk of pressure injury
With their mobility already limited, nursing home residents are now more likely to be confined to their rooms. Spending most of their time sitting or lying down increases pressure exposure.
Increased hospitalization risk
Spending more time in their rooms also puts residents at higher risk for debilitating physical symptoms, malnutrition, depression, dehydration, and urinary tract infections. These affects increase the chance of hospitalization.
Telehealth solutions for remote cognitive care
As it becomes more prevalent, it’s clear that telehealth offers benefits for patients, as well as their extended care teams.
A recent study published in JMIR shows the benefits of addressing the risk to nursing home residents and dementia patients with telehealth. By streamlining data and health records, digital solutions can improve preventive care. Plus, these tools enable staff to identify high-risk residents more quickly.
Using BrainCheck, nursing home clinicians and caregivers can assess and track patients’ cognitive health. The platform’s remote testing features allow for continued care without requiring the risk of an office visit. And by detecting changes in cognitive function earlier, clinicians can help patients reduce the risks of cognitive impairment.