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 Carole Bertman, Peninsula College of Nursing
My major of nursing can improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care exponentially. Most people when asked what kind of nurse they want to be, would say pediatrics or obstetrics. Not myself. The only kind of nursing I want to do is geriatric nursing. As I am a stay at home mom, I have not had a whole lot of practice with physically working with patients, but I have tried to do what I can. In the summer of 2014, I attended a CNA class at Peninsula college and did a rotation in a long term care facility. I understand not everyone has the ability to care for themselves for their whole life, but after completing our rotation, I observed how different it is being independent as opposed to being in a facility and how it would be such an amazing gift to help people stay at home as long as they could. I can only imagine how hard that must be to take care of yourself your whole life and have something like a stroke or a heart attack change your whole life in one day. I think the ability to give the gift of independence is truly incredible and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
My grandmother, Millie, is an 87 year old woman who is as feisty and as stubborn as they come. When she came home from her stroke, we were not sure how well she would be able to recover. Since the beginning of October, I have been going over twice a week to help her. We have updated her medication system, made the house more walker friendly, helped her cook and clean, and done other miscellaneous housework. We also take her out around town so she doesn’t feel stuck in the house. More importantly, I give her space. If she tells me she can make her own bed, I let her. I don’t hover, but I stay close enough in case something happens. I have had such a joy and great time helping her adjust to using a walker and re-learning her balance. We have an in-home nurse come once a week to check her pain. With the skills I have now, I am able to give her nurse a much better over-all picture of Millie’s health. We also have visits for foot care and physical therapy. All of these people help Millie maintain her dignity and never make her feel like she cannot do it herself. These people show me what kind of nurse I would like to be. They are so helpful and answer all of my questions and explain things in a way that both Millie and I understand what is happening.
In my personal opinion, what it all boils down to is that our elderly have just as much right to have dignity and respect as anyone else. With my job, I would like to provide that and help our elderly maintain their independence as long as they can. My grandmother and I were comparing our hands the other day. She told me that she liked how my hands looked and felt and how she was jealous because her rheumatoid arthritis has disfigured her hands so much. I told her that although mine may be “prettier,” they have not nearly experienced the same kind of things that hers have. I told her that her hands have lived, and experienced much more, and I hope that someday when I am older, I can tell people the stories that my hands have experienced like hers has. She smiled and agreed with me. I hope to bring as much joy and help as I can to as many people as I can. With this scholarship, it will bring me one step closer to achieving my goals.
Carole is currently attending the Peninsula College Nursing program.