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 Claudia Alvarez, Loyola Marymount University

Mechanical Engineering can lead to improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services in various different ways. Specifically, in the Biomedical Engineering field I know of various innovations that combine engineering principles and problem solving techniques with medicine to help improve the health care system over all. In the case of home health care mechanical engineers can create technology that would allow the seniors receiving home care to live a more independent life. For example, advanced technological baths can be created to help seniors take a shower in the comfort and privacy of their own home. Such machines can also be created to facilitate their everyday activities such as eating and walking. Mechanical engineers are not only focused on creating the most technologically advanced machine, they also focus on accessibility. It is important to take into consideration the cost of these machines and make sure that they are accessible to all seniors in need of care. Furthermore mechanical engineers can also assist in the creation of technology used to train the home caregivers to ensure that the seniors are receiving the best care possible. In various medical fields they are using new simulation technology such as electrical “dummies” that are programed to react like actual human beings. With these simulation technology you can train the home care givers for emergency situations and allow them to obtain a semi-real experience before dealing with an actual patient. Mechanical engineers play an important role in the creation of these simulation systems that could potentially improve the care provided by home health care.

Recently in one of my engineering freshman classes we assigned an artifact project in collaboration with an elementary school for children with learning disabilities. The purpose of the assignment was to create some sort of device that would help improve the student’s experience in class. Me and my team were assigned to a second grade class and after observing the students, we came up with the “fidget chair”. A lot of the kids had a hard time sitting still in their seats and we had seen that in other classes they had children sitting in yoga balls. We wanted to create a more stable form of this and after doing some research we found that they had adult chairs that had half a yoga ball attached to a seat but there wasn’t any chairs like that for little kids. After working on this project for a little more than a month we have created a prototype that is currently being tested by the kids in the second grade class. We will follow up with them and see if we need to make any changes to the chair. This is one of the many examples of how engineering can improve the lives of others including senior patients receiving in-home care.

About Claudia

Claudia is a first year student at Loyola Marymount University.

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