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 Samantha Dadoush
According to a report by the US Census Bureau, the population of elderly individuals made up nearly 14% of the US population in 2012, and is projected to make up 20% of the population by the year 2030 (Ortman, Velkoff, & Hogan, 2014). Because of this dramatic increase in the geriatric population, physical therapy is quickly growing as a practice among seniors. Physical therapists provide many different modalities for these seniors that can serve to improve their performance in the activities of their daily lives. From balance activities and stretches aimed at reducing falls, to helping regain mobility after a knee surgery, therapy can be used to aid many different aspects of elders existences. Physical therapists can improve the lives of home-bound seniors by providing physical improvement and maintenance of muscle activity, and also by initiating social interaction and reducing psychological strain on the elderly individual.
As a physical therapy student, I have had the opportunity to observe some situations in which seniors require in-home health services. The situation from which I learned the most about the type of care that physical therapists provide to seniors, involved my own grandpa. As a stroke victim, my dad’s dad has struggled with his mobility for nearly 20 years. Because of his limited mobility, it is difficult for him and my grandma to leave their home to go to a clinic for care. Fortunately, there are many healthcare providers that supply in-home visits by physical therapists. Through the exercises and modalities prescribed by physical therapists, my grandfather has recovered most of the use of his right arm and leg. Being able to maintain some of his independence in his activities of daily living has provided a big boost to my grandpa’s confidence. Although his is not the most impressive story of odds-defying rehabilitation, he has regained quite a bit of his lost mobility by having a physical therapist work with him at home.
Physical therapists can do even more to improve quality of life than just by rehabilitating the body. When a lonely senior needs a friend, therapists can provide a caring companion who can brighten up a gloomy day and shed a positive light on a difficult situation. By meeting the social needs of the patients, physical therapists can potentially speed recovery times psychosomatically. By entering the home and becoming close to the family, therapists can improve the social lives of elderly individuals who are home-bound. On a particular occasion, I had the opportunity to observe a therapist as she worked with my grandpa. Not only was I able to see the relief that filled my grandpa’s face as she used an ultrasound to loosen up his sore elbow, but I was also able to see the pure joy that shone on his face as he and my grandma joked and laughed with the therapist. These physical therapists can be perceived as guardian angels sent to lighten the burden of a physical ailment through their friendliness and care.
Overall, seniors receiving in-home care can benefit greatly from having a physical therapist visit them in their home. By supplying modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation machines and by providing appropriate workout routines, therapists can help restore muscle function after an injury. Physical therapists can also provide balance activities to reduce the risk of falls and exercises to allow for elders to continue their tasks of daily living by maintaining muscle mass. But perhaps greatest of all, is the ability of physical therapists to bond with the elderly individuals and improve their psychological and social well-being by providing a listening ear and a compassionate heart. These may very well be the most important aspects of a physical therapist now and in the year 2030.
Samantha Dadoush is currently a sophomore at Oakland University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences with a Pre-Physical Therapy concentration.