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  • Cameron Oglesby

Health apps help seniors manage chronic conditions. Too bad most don’t use them.

Are you living with heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or some other chronic condition? If so, you’ve got lots of company – nearly two out of three American adults, according to a February Health Day/Harris Poll survey.

Fortunately, help in managing these conditions is right at your fingertips, in the form of apps on your smartphone. “Some of the apps have been demonstrated to result in benefits,” says Dr. David Bates, chief of internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Some of the weight loss apps really do help people lose weight, Similarly, some of the diabetes apps can help you control sugar more effectively.”

Unfortunately, people who’d benefit most from using those apps – 69% of people 65 and older living with a chronic health problem – have chosen not to.

Only 14% of people with chronic illnesses say they use an app specifically designed to help them manage their condition. And only one of every five seniors with chronic conditions said they’d be likely to use such an app in the future.

Almost half – 45% – of those 65+ say they don’t use health apps because they don’t need to constantly track their health, even though their medical records say otherwise. This may be because they’re more aware of apps that track fitness (93%), nutrition and weight loss (83%), and water consumption (77%) than of apps that help track and manage chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease (64%)

They’re more than twice as likely to use a general fitness app like Fitbit or Apple Fitness+ (38%) than one that helps in managing a chronic health condition (17%).

When the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging asked about diabetes-related apps, only 28% of respondents with diabetes said they use an app to record blood sugar levels and only 14% to log their medications. While 68% of respondents with Type 2 diabetes said they’d heard of continuous glucose monitors that work in conjunction with mobile apps, only 11% said they actually used them.

At Senior Insights, we place a high priority on monitoring our clients’ conditions – not just their medical condition, but also their mental, cognitive, emotional and psychosocial conditions as well. First, with a through, three-part needs assessment. Then, with weekly RN checkups that go way beyond taking vital signs and are like mini-needs assessments themselves. It’s all part of a holistic senior care management program, custom-designed to fit clients’ individual needs preferences and values.

Best of all, like a health app, we’re just one finger’s touch away.

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