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 Alexis Rushton, University of Findlay

Geriatrics is the largest growing age group in the U.S. population due to the Baby Boom of the 1940s and 1950s. With the growing number of elderly patients, the healthcare industry is in need of all jobs in the healthcare field to keep up, including doctors, nurses, and physical therapists. These healthcare careers are necessary for the large amount of the elderly patients that receive in-home care services, including home care nurses, speech therapists, as well as my major of study, physical therapy.

Physical therapy is a career in the healthcare industry that helps with the rehabilitation of patients. It focuses on exercises and movements that strengthen muscles that have been injured or are too weak to be effectively used by the patient. Physical therapy helps patients become stronger and more capable of getting back to their daily activities. Physical therapy is incredibly important for elderly patients because they are often getting injuries by falling or hurting themselves doing things they used to be able to do. Therapy often can repair muscles necessary to get them around their houses easier, and it can also help them to return to their lives with the certainty that they won’t hurt themselves again.

Physical therapy can assist elderly homebound patients by providing help with improving physical function and rehabilitation after surgery or injury. In-home physical therapists provide services to, not only help seniors feel better, but also help them build muscles and learn the proper way to do things to reduce the chance of injury. Physical therapists can help to strengthen muscles needed to do daily activities seniors often become unable to do. Therefore, physical therapists can help senior citizens maintain the independence they crave longer than they would be able to without physical therapy. Physical therapists also provide company and something for a senior citizen to wake up and look forward to. Often, knowing someone is coming to see them gives them the encouragement and inspiration to wake up and get dressed. Also, it gives them a more positive outlook on their days when they have a purpose; therefore helping them mentally is a prominent part in the roll of a geriatric physical therapist.  Physical therapy can also improve the discomfort senior citizens have from being homebound. Senior citizens who are confined to their homes day after day often find their muscles and joints are weak and stiff because of lack of use. With a reason to exercise with a physical therapist on a regular basis, a senior can feel better physically by having it be easier to move around their homes.

For example, my grandmother had Parkinson’s disease for several years. She was wheelchair-bound, and she was incapable of dressing or using the bathroom without assistance. Luckily, she had my grandfather who helped her with anything she needed each day. As a family, we decided to find a physical therapist that worked with Parkinson’s diseased patients, and was having a lot of success with these patients. After the very first meeting with the physical therapist, my grandmother was so excited to start the rehabilitation process because she wanted to feel like she had a purpose in her life again. She hoped she could begin to do some of the little things that used to give her pleasure in life, like baking or playing cards. She knew she wouldn’t become the woman she once was, but she knew she could work on regaining some independence in her life, and, most importantly, she wanted to regain some confidence in herself.

Physical therapy is truly a necessary and helpful service for elderly in-home patients. It can improve their bodies and minds—physically and mentally. It improves the way they act and live their lives because they feel more capable and useful within their own house and in the world around them. Physical therapy can change their whole perspective on life in a very short amount of time.

About Alexis

Alexis is a first year at the University of Findlay in Ohio. She is currently in the Pre-Physical Therapy Undergraduate program while pursuing a major in Strength and Conditioning

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