A variety of studies have shown how text messages can effectively to promote good health. That’s amazing! Perhaps texting for senior health is a step that we can reasonably expect to happen in the near future.
Texting for the sake of Improving Health
A Study on Diabetes and CVD
A new study, published in the journal called Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes at the end of August 2019, focused on people with diabetes and CVD (cardiovascular disease). Over 500 people were recruited from a number of hospitals on China. The individuals suffered from CVD, a leading cause of mortality, and diabetes, an exceptionally prevalent disease. Since previous studies focused on people who had one medical issue, the results were not taken too seriously, since in real life, unfortunately, people often have co-existing medical issues.
The study hoped to prove that in real life, texting could practically and positively affect the health of people.
The control group received simple messages thanking them for being part of the study. However, the motivational group received messages encouraging them to take care of their medical issues. Some exmples include: to test their blood sugar, focus on controlling blood pressure, advice for a healthy lifestyle and taking medication correctly.
Researchers were looking at:
- Blood sugar levels
- Blood pressure (systolic BP)
- Weight control (through the BMI)
- Cholesterol control (lipoprotein)
What was the outcome?
Well, 6 months into the study, the participants in the motivational group had achieved lower blood sugar levels! There wasn’t any difference in the other factors being tested for between the two groups.
The messages in the study were particularly acceptable to the participants, suggested Dr. Xiquin Huo, who said that for example, Chinese people prefer direct instructions. That is an important item to note, if the study would be carried out in the States. The motivational text messages need to be suitable to the audience.
What is really interesting, apart from the incredible reduction in blood sugar levels, is medium of communication. According to the study, 97% of the participants felt that texting was a convenient method of communication.
New Technology in Senior Adults’ Hands
What percentage of adults in the States own or use cell phones? The vast majority: 96%.
What about seniors? The answer is 85% of seniors aged 65 years and above, according to PEW Research Center.
Certainly, if seniors have cell phones and smartphones, this could be a great way of communication with a senior patient.
This obviously requires more research. However, it seems that we are heading that way. Texting and SMS-ing could be used for reminding seniors of their medical obligations.
If it is so successful, then Why Not?
People carry their phones with them wherever they go. They look at the screen umpteen times a day. Why not use that resource as a support and help in controlling medical conditions?
Obviously, research has to take into account factors that are special to the senior population.
Consequently, some factors might be:
- Having a phone
- An ability to use a phone properly
- A good cognitive understanding to understand the messages
- Willingness to use the ‘service’ as part of complete medical cover
To clarify, perhaps seniors will see this as complementing their overall care and a step towards better health. Texting for senior health could become a reality in the future. The general direction in senior health, is that the medical world is harnessing simple tools that can promote good health. So, we can hope to see an increase in non-pharmacological cures that supplement the pharmacological ones.