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 Reenee Johnson
One undeniable thing about human beings is that we crave social interaction. People of all ages want to have relationships, which make life more enjoyable. It is evident that most elders love being surrounded by people, sharing their wisdom, teaching lessons, giving their life story, and having people to brighten their day. Unfortunately, many elders do not receive this social interaction, even in an in-home care service. This is due to many elders being unable to get out of bed, or so accustomed to it, that they can’t imagine themselves walking around. I am a student going into physical therapy, and I believe that adequate physical therapy is the answer to improving more than just physical aspects of life.
My major is called Biokinetics, which is the study of life and movement. Surprisingly, even in the current age, there is still so much that therapists do not know about the human body and how to optimize health at every age. As I study, I seek to find answers on what is the best way to optimize movement and alleviate pain in patients. Even with the current knowledge, however, there is no doubt a need for physical therapy. Elders often experience chronic pain, and they are virtually unable to enjoy or focus on anything else in their life. Being in bed so long also causes their joints to stiffen and muscles to weaken, which causes even more physical problems. They then reach a point of never wanting to leave bed, and this decreases quality of life significantly.
Seniors receiving in-home care should have regular physical therapy. By improving the physical therapy quality in these services, quality of life soars. By even going on short walks, elders run into friendly faces and can receive interaction outside their room. As I stated earlier, this interaction is so critical in being a happy person. Not only will individuals be happier, but also an overall greater sense of community can be reached within the home. Exercise would also increase the amount of endorphins in the body, which would create more energy and elevate the moods.
It is a sad truth that even with the best physical therapy, some elders still cannot go on walks due to their physical condition or old age. However, physical therapy would still be very beneficial to improving their lives. Simply moving the joints and activating the muscles prevents further injuries, decreases stiffness and pain, and increases amounts of endorphins. More oxygen will be flowing to their brain, which will increase mental capabilities and improve focus. Not only would people live longer, but they could also spend their lives in less pain and in a better mood. Less time would be spent dozing off and more time could be spent on enjoying all interactions elders have with the people in the home. This could include family members, therapists, nurses, aids, visitors, other patients, and anyone else that might enter their room. Enjoying these small interactions can be day brighteners constantly, and there will be something to look forward to every day.
I am studying life and movement to optimize the way physical therapy works. As more studies are conducted and research is collected, therapy can be even more beneficial than it already is. Therapists will know which exercises are the most effective in increasing mobility and use every second possible to obtain maximum benefits. I am planning on working at an in-home care service when I get my doctorate and am dedicating my studies specifically to learning about the elderly and how to improve their physical conditions. With more physical therapists available and the increase of physical therapy quality in these homes, there is no doubt that each person will live a better life.
Renee is a student at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.