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 Carlee Tackett, Indiana State University

Nutrition can affect every part of a person’s life. What someone consumes determines how effectively and how accurately a body will function. Healthier choices result in a stronger immune system, a longer life expectancy, and  greater self-esteem. A Registered Dietitian’s main goal is to help their client find the best nutritious diet that fits their lifestyle. Due to age, health, and financial circumstances a Dietitian will have to be creative in selecting the patient’s diet. Senior citizens need a nutritious diet; therefore by assigning a Dietitian through their in-home care services, the patient’s diet requirements will be met. The Dietitian will be able to look at their patient’s medical charts and determine what adjustments should be made in their diet. They would also be able to help their patient find more nutritious foods as substitutes to an unhealthy diet.

To become a Registered Dietitian one must be able to comprehend medical charts in order to help understand a patient’s health so proper changes can be made to their diet. In-home care providers are trained on how to help their client live independently, which includes teaching them how to cook nutritious meals. As a non-medical provider, in-home care agencies will ideally work with home health care agencies in making referrals for their clients that need assistance with their diet. With the help of a Dietitian the in-home care providers will be able to provide aid on eating a proper diet. However, the client will need continual medical testing so the Dietitian will be able to properly understand if the changes in diet are sufficient.

Sometimes creative suggestions will need to be made in order to encourage a healthy diet. The senior patient may have had the same diet for years and to ask them to change could be a struggle. A Dietitian will need to find affordable and tasty alternatives to replace the patient’s normal choices. By making these changes to the senior’s diet, their health will be positively affected in many different ways. The creative suggestions may protect the patient’s body by fighting off diseases or possibly improve their current health condition.

I realize the effect that a Dietitian’s creative suggestions can have on seniors through my involvement with Southern Indiana Center for Independent Living (SICIL); therefore, I believe in the importance of proper nutrition in both in-home care and home health care. My mother is the Financial Controller at SICIL; and because of her position there I have learned a lot about in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities. Due to the close ties I have with SICIL, I have realized the need for extra care in nutrition, especially in regards to seniors. SICIL trains their employees thoroughly before they enter the client’s home. The SICIL in-home care staff are trained to teach their clients independent living skills, including how to cook and how to shop for their groceries. The in-home care client’s need this assistance and guidance, but without a Dietitian working hand in hand with the in-home care staff, the clients may not be buying and preparing foods with proper nutrition.

Registered Dietitians are vital for the lives of those receiving both in-home care and home health care services. Seniors need the creativity and knowledge of a professional to help guide them to proper food choices. Since I have personally seen the positive effects in-home care has on many people, I can say that a Dietitian working alongside the in-home care providers will improve the lives of seniors.

About Carlee

Carlee is a currently a freshman at Indiana State University, studying dietetics. She hopes to become a registered dietitian (RD) post-graduation. 

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