My parents are Baby Boomers - part of a silver tsunami that is expected to hit hard in Canada around 2030 when over a quarter or our population will be over 65. In the next fifteen years, this rising tide of elderly people is expected to cause considerable strain on our health care system and on the children of baby boomers, like me, coined the Sandwich Generation. It’s a hot topic in the media, but also at my dinner table.
One of the biggest things my parents and I talk about is how will we manage their health care when they can no longer manage it alone. On one side I have aging parents, and on the other, I have two young girls who need me as well. My parents are acutely aware that it could cause strain on me trying to juggle it all.
We are lucky to all share the same family physician, and she is a big believer in digital health solutions. Our entire family’s health records are stored online so they are at her fingertips when we visit. This means she can watch for signs of inherited health issues in me and in my daughters since her records indicate family ties. It also means she can easily pull up results from my Dad’s prostate monitoring. As the years go by, and memories start to fail, digital health records are going to make all of our lives a lot easier.
Thankfully, digital health solutions aren’t just for physicians and pharmacists. My parents have always been early adopters when it comes to technology (my Dad even has Snapchat –but that’s another story), and there are great tools either here already or on the way to help people like me who are - or will be - managing the health of multiple people.
My parents, however, are a bit of an anomaly. A TELUS Health survey showed that while older Canadians agree that they are the most likely to benefit from digital technology, only 20% currently use it. That’s too bad because digital life is not just for millennials and GenY, it’s for all of us, at every stage of life, especially when it comes to our health.
Through the use of apps and wearable technology, my parents are also able to monitor their health and share results with their physician. This also makes my parents more active participants in their own health. It also means they can be alerted to when they should call the physician for a check-up.
Perhaps the best advancement in recent years though has come from TELUS Health. TELUS Pharma Space links all my family members prescriptions and notifies us when refills are due, and how many refills are left. This information is visible online via web or mobile devices for all my family members to see. This means the responsibility doesn’t just rest on one person’s shoulders; it lightens the load for everyone.
TELUS Health technologies, like home health monitoring or personal health records, enable patients to collaborate efficiently and in a meaningful way with their care team for better personal health outcomes. TELUS is also making strides in getting people to talk to each other about using technology to manage healthcare. If you’re riding the silver tsunami like I am, consider opening a dialogue with your parents on how you can manage their healthcare together using digital health solutions. For us, it gives us peace of mind knowing that between technology and me, my parents will be able to live independent lives for a long time to come.
They call my generation the “sandwich generation” like it’s a bad thing. I disagree. There’s nothing I’d rather be than the filling in this sandwich.