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 Jenna Garno, Saginaw Valley State University
One of the first things I learned from college was that diversity is a wonderful thing. I came to appreciate just how diverse the background of students could be; some are from many races, religious backgrounds, age groups, social classes, or even have different belief systems. This appreciation of their diversity is what led me to make the decision of becoming a social worker. Social workers work with all sorts of people; we advocate on behalf of many, because we recognize and value the uniqueness of each individual. Because we ourselves come from different backgrounds, it helps us acknowledge that each person is special and has different needs, such as the elderly.
One of my jobs as a social worker is to help my client address any obstacles, whether they are personal, social, or environmental, that comes from aging. Part of this is connecting my client with the services that provide in-homecare. An example of this would be if the client were no longer able to drive, I would utilize transportation services such as a taxi service; if they could no longer cook, I would provide them with meals on wheels; if they needed a private nurse; I would help connect them to one, etc. As a social worker, I am there to advocate and broker on behalf of my client’s needs. In-home services are a few of the many tools that I have as a social worker to help enhance the quality of my older client’s life. There are also different programs out there like “adopt a grandparent” that are similar to people adopting families around Christmas time that I could use.
As a social worker, I am there to help with things like the physical complications of aging, mental health issues, cultural barriers, and any other concerns the older client may have to face. It is also my duty to help my client navigate their way through complicated healthcare and social service systems. I would have to gather up information on all sorts of different resources available to my client, help coordinate the care, help facilitate a family and friend support system, and possibly provide direct counseling services as well. Some specific issues when dealing with the elderly population include bereavement, loneliness, and end-of-life questions. Social workers help the client address these issues through counseling as well as many other means.
Yet another issue faced by the geriatric population is elder abuse. Many of the elderly populace are abused physically, mentally, and financially by their caretakers. Social workers are mandated reporters of these crimes and are trained to recognize signs of abuse. It is my job to pay attention to my client and see to it that he or she is not being neglected and treated with respect.
My career path is dedicated to improving the lives and advocating for the rights of all people, including the elderly. With the baby boomers retiring within the next few years, it is almost guaranteed that I will be interacting and working with the geriatric population. It will be my job not only to enhance their quality of life, but also to make sure they are safe, healthy, and thriving instead of just simply existing.
Jenna is interesting in making an impact on the world, which is why she chose to study social work.