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 Casey Houlihan, Marquette University

Movement plays a big role in the life of a dancer. Physical therapy interests me due to its focus on mobility. Dance is an active study of movement, and physical therapy would allow me to continue that study in a more academic format. In the future, I want to perform physical therapy on dancers.  I understand the fear of not being able to perform due to injury. During my ballet training, I have spent countless hours doing exercises in order to refine my technique. Perfection takes time and practice.  My own experience with repetition to achieve success will give me empathy when working with others as a physical therapist.

Giving clients the tools to maintain healthy bodies is an exciting task.  Disability and injury can limit mobility, and adjustment to a new body is difficult. While working as a lifeguard, I encountered a boy with autism that would come in every week with his dad. He was an active boy, and enforcing rules upon him was a little difficult. I had to accommodate for not only his communication deficits, but, more importantly, his limited movement. I enjoyed finding methods for the little boy to have fun in the pool without endangering himself or any of the other patrons. Once, I gave the boy flippers, allowing him to swim quickly enough that he could jump off the diving board and move out the way before the next person jumped.  In this instance, I was able to help the boy navigate the pool with ease and improve his experience at the pool.

When I work as a physical therapist, I will find creative ways to increase the mobility of a person. During my observation hours, I loved hearing stories about how the exercises the therapists were giving to their patients were allowing them to do more in their lives. One man expressed his thanks repeatedly to his therapist. Her help had a lasting effect on his life, allowing him to work more hours and support his family. One day, I hope to have that sort of influence in the life of a patient of my own. I admire the ability to enhance someone’s life. On my visit to Marquette, I encountered Father Naus, who reaffirmed my decision to pursue physical therapy because it was keeping the “elderly people like him out of pain.” Father Naus inspired me to seriously consider studying physical therapy at Marquette University. However, he also helped me realize physical therapy is not just about relieving pain and improving mobility, but, more importantly, making an impact on someone’s life.

Overall, my major will not only encompass the topic of assisting seniors with their in-home care, but it will do so much more. Not only will I be able to go into a senior’s home and improve their mobility, but I’ll teach them new tasks that they can do without assistance. I have the potential to be the difference between needing help in the bathroom or cooking to having the ability to these tasks with little to no assistance. Independence is something we all take for granted, and I relish the opportunity to give that back to the elderly community.


About Casey

Casey is a student at the Marquette University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program.

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