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 the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Stephanie Yau
From my experience with tutoring senior citizens about technology, I learned that seniors want to learn about technology. However, there are often not as many resources to teach them how to manipulate the constantly-changing technology. The healthcare industry not only can use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors, but can also encourage the community to help educate seniors on how to use technology. For example, when caregivers bring seniors to events at senior centers to interact with other seniors, there can be volunteers who can help tutor seniors about using technology such as computers and the Internet. That way, if the healthcare industry were to use technology such as online medical services, seniors can use this tool to communicate with doctors. It is often very inconvenient for families and caregivers to take seniors to doctors for check-ups very frequently, but if seniors have quick questions about their health, such as what food to eat or problems they are experiencing, they can interact with doctors via online medical service. Because of the limited resources that teach seniors about technology, it prevents them from attempting to use it.
Additionally, technology is a great tool for seniors to interact with families such as through Skype or other social networking sites such as Facebook to keep up with family news. If caregivers could spend a little time with helping seniors with using technology, this could even help make it easier on caregivers since there are already many tasks that they must do to help seniors live comfortably, happily, and safely.
In today’s society, storage of massive amounts of information and access to them through search engines encourages many to use the Internet to learn about medical problems. However, because of the limited resources provided for seniors to learn about technology, it is hard for seniors to learn about their health conditions. One important goal that we want to always continue to strive for is the happiness and health for seniors. Seniors must be healthy physically, but mentally as well. If the healthcare industry could find a way to gather all related and credible information to a senior’s medication, seniors would understand better about the medication they are taking as many seniors sometimes take lots of medication and it has always been a concern for families to help seniors keep track of this.
Mainly, by educating seniors more about their health through the use of technology, we not only help seniors, but caregivers as well. If seniors are more satisfied with their lives and take more control of their health, caregivers can more comfortably offer aid for seniors and have time to develop stronger relationships with seniors. As much as technology can help improve seniors’ lives, ultimately, we need caregivers who truly not only take good care of seniors, but also act as a friend who is willing to communicate with seniors. From my volunteer experience, I know that many seniors are willing to communicate with others of younger ages and not just other seniors. They are willing to learn and we must encourage them and help them as well. This can improve their mental health and memory as well.
There are many obstacles to these advancements, as high costs are barriers for the healthcare industry to provide these services for the majority of seniors. Internet security problems can be an issue and is always something that we constantly trying to improve. However, we need to, as a community, take steps into help seniors adjust and learn more about technology. Seniors may feel that it is unnecessary to use technology and go on the Internet to learn about their health. Not only are they avoiding the idea of learning more about the Internet, but they are avoiding the reality of their health circumstances. They may feel lonelier and this makes it hard for caregivers and families as well. If the healthcare industry can implement changes to how seniors can access medical information and the community can volunteer to help as well, this can really support seniors to understand about their health and know how to maintain their health and age gracefully. It takes initiative for things to happen. Just as how Senior Advisor communicates with families via the Internet to show the ratings for senior services providers through its data collection, the healthcare industry should encourage seniors to have more interaction with technology. It is a tool that if used properly, can benefit not only seniors, but caregivers and families as well.
Stephanie is a business major at Santa Clara University.