About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?
Essay response by Kristina Ertel, Marian University of Wisconsin
Obtaining a major in biology and chemistry will aid me in my goal of attending graduate school for biomedical research. This goal will bridge my career path so that I can work as part of a team of researchers in order to elucidate the mechanisms behind diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. This major has prepared me, so far, in learning about the human body and the functions of different cellular processes. Having a degree in biomedical research will allow for me to pursue cures or better treatments for those in desperate need of them.
This correlates to senior home care because many seniors are affected by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By finding more effective treatments they may be easier to care for and more able to stay at home with the aid of caregiver’s rather than being hospitalized or placed in a nursing home facility. My maternal grandfather is a great example of this. He had trouble with mobility and doing household chores. At the time my grandmother was able to pick up the extra duties with the aid of myself, but if my grandfather would have been home alone, at home care would have been needed. My paternal grandmother currently receives in-home care through the IRIS program of Wisconsin. She also exhibits problems with severe arthritis and fibromyalgia as well as many others ailments. Caregivers must help her with all of her daily routines. Sometimes the caregivers have a hard time motivating and helping her because she is in so much pain. If it was possible to help her and find new ways to combat the symptoms she is feeling it would be beneficial to not only my grandmother, but reduce the stress and noncompliance that the caregivers deal with on a daily basis.
I believe that biomedical research could greatly improve the lives of these seniors who receive in-home care. They would potentially be more self sufficient and have increased mobility. Both of these factors would help caregivers complete their jobs more efficiently and easily. It would also allow for better safety of both caretaker and client. In the case of Parkinson’s, the client could potentially have improved mobility, and the risk of falls and becoming trapped would decrease. Caregivers would not have to strain or put themselves in situations where catching the individual would be necessary.
I know from firsthand experience how important it is for people to remain in their homes as they age. The thought of moving to a nursing home, where a patient lives in a tiny room, sometimes with a roommate, with schedules they do not make themselves is a very stressful and unappealing choice for seniors to make. However, sometimes the conditions in which these patients have do not allow for this. Through biomedical research, the option of in-home care may become more of a reality for these individuals. Caregivers would have a much easier time caring for these individuals. Reducing the stress and responsibilities of the caregivers would be beneficial for both client and patient. Life is short, and I believe it is a very important task to ensure everyone can live happily and safely through the entirety of it. We can find better treatments and possibly cures through science, we just need to take the time and analyze what is going on in these individuals at a cellular level and propose new ideas to fix it.
Kristina is currently a junior at Marian University of Wisconsin, majoring in biology with a chemistry minor.