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 Kaitlyn York, Luther College
Seniors receiving in-home care services need assistance with a variety of activities. As Senior Advisor explains, “the activities of daily living (ADLs) include bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, eating, and walking.” Helping seniors with these aspects of daily life will help them function to their highest ability. However, what about the mental and emotional well being of those receiving in-home care? One way to bring relaxation, mental stimulation, and peace to those receiving in-home care is with music. Music offers not only a productive way to occupy seniors, but can also be a great form of mental and emotional therapy. Engaging in musical activities will help seniors maintain the important skills of creativity, awareness, communication, and expression. Music is one of the few mediums with which one can develop every one of these skills. Most importantly, music bridges the gap between people of all backgrounds, cultures, ages, and occupations. It is truly the one universal language.
Playing an instrument or singing are great ways to be creative. Even if one does not have the ability to read music or play an instrument, everybody has the ability to create sounds and music with their own bodies through snapping, clapping, humming, and of course singing. Music relies heavily on the creative process, so music will encourage those receiving in-home care to be creative and resourceful.
Awareness is another invaluable skill that is developed by music. This is because music is not only about creating; it is about listening. Listening is a life skill that helps humans be more connected. It helps people understand one another and build invaluable connections with one another. The same thing happens when listening to music. Music communicates an emotion, idea, or thought from a performer to a listener, and from listener to listener. Just because some seniors need assistance with their daily activities does not mean that they should miss out on making invaluable connections and keeping an awareness of the people and the world around them.
The other two components of music that will benefit seniors receiving in-home care are communication and expression. Music is a medium in which musicians, composers, and performers communicate and express themselves to an audience. With music as a part of their daily lives, seniors will be encouraged to express themselves in a similar way. Whether this self-expression is in the form of music or not does not matter. The priority is to keep those in care as healthy as possible. The encouragement and development of self-expression and communication will help to keep seniors with in-home care healthy and happy.
In addition to each of these benefits to a senior’s mental and emotional health, music also offers a medium for connecting with one another. More than just communicating, and even more than expressing, music has a way of touching people on a very deep level. An audience or group of listeners may include members of diverse ages, cultural backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses. But listening to the same music can have the same effect on each group of people that hear it. Beyond words, cultural differences, and age differences is the language of music. Music is the one guaranteed way that a senior receiving in-home care can connect with their friends and family, the general public, and their in-home care provider.
Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health. This is no different for seniors receiving in-home care. Consequently, it is paramount to not only support seniors with the daily activities needed to function, but also to provide seniors with a way to find mental stimulation, relaxation, excitement, creativity, and peace. Furthermore, music is the only way to guarantee effective communication and connection between seniors and their in-home care providers. To give seniors the best in-home care possible, they must be afforded to opportunity to study, listen to, or make music in their daily lives.
Kaitlyn is a student pursuing a degree in music education at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.