White paper finds advances in telemedicine, access to high-speed networks helping reverse trend of more elderly entering nursing homes.
Arlington, Va., (May 3, 2012) – The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) today issued the white paper, “Aging in Place and the Role of Broadband.” The white paper finds that broadband access provided by small, rural telephone companies, coupled with recent health care reforms and cutting-edge technology, is making it possible for more rural seniors to comfortably and safely spend their final years in their own homes.
The white paper was issued as part of the foundation’s Rural Telecom Educational Series, an ongoing effort to promote rural telecom and educate national and local policy-makers on the challenges and opportunities facing community-based telecom providers. Previous papers have focused on wireless technology in rural America, cable rates and rural economic development.
“Aging in Place” focuses on advances in telemedicine and how this digital method of bringing patients and health care professionals together via high-speed Internet connections is helping reverse the growing trend toward private nursing home care and assisted living among rural seniors. Studies have shown that nearly 4 percent more rural seniors are in nursing homes than their urban counterparts because of the lack of transportation, scarcity of doctors and hospitals and fewer at-home services offered in rural areas.
“Thanks to the hard work of community-based telecommunications providers to bring broadband to rural America, access to high-quality health care is no longer an impediment to aging in place for many rural seniors,” said Elizabeth Crocker, FRS executive director. “These technologies are making it possible for seniors to live more independently and affording them the same comfort and security their urban counterparts enjoy.”
The white paper highlights a number of telehealth applications enabled by rural telcos, including:
- Videoconferencing capabilities that allow doctors and patients to communicate over the Internet;
- Remote health monitoring services that record vital signs, such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and relay that information to doctors and family members;
- Systems that transmit large digital files such as X?rays and photos between technicians, specialists or primary care providers.
The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS), in cooperation with the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and its members, seeks to sustain and enhance the quality of life throughout rural America by advancing an understanding of rural telecommunications issues. FRS is committed to educational achievement in rural communities, recognizing that tomorrow’s economic and civic development depends on the involvement and commitment of today’s youth. Visit us at www.frs.org.
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 570 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.