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 Corinne Gahan, Northern Illinois University

The health care industry can use technology to help promote the lives of American seniors in a number ways. Through my life, I have had the joy of having two loving and supportive parents. Although it has been a happy journey, it isn’t always the easiest when your parents are seniors at the age of 20, my mom being 64 and my dad being 65.  This topic hits home for me. I am always in constant fear that I will lose my parents or that they will get hurt, especially around the winter time.

It is more common for deaths to occur when the seasons change in old age for a number of reasons. One of those reasons comes down to the temperature. Healthcare needs to make heat and air conditioning a priority for seniors. Unfortunately, some seniors are forgetful and could forget to adjust heat and air settings, especially when they go to sleep. Technology should improve by keeping track of and being able to sense the seniors’ body temperature and adjusting to their needs. This could prevent seniors from passing in their sleep by becoming too cold.  We can accomplish this by installing sensors around the house, or by creating an all-in-one bracelet that detects body temperature and sends wireless signals to adjust the temperature setting in the house. This bracelet could also include the help button to call an ambulance when help is needed and keep track of their pulse; so if the heart palpitations are off, a healthcare can be notified to send help. This alone would help save lives and prevent the fear of finding a loved one dead several days after their passing.

Another way to help the seniors of America is to prevent them from falling on the ice; this is one of my greatest fears. There needs to be a more affordable solution to help make it so ice doesn’t cause so many deaths. For those living dependently, there needs to be a better solution. From heated driveways to creating a cheaper ice melting method to put on the driveways, there needs to be a better solution because salt and kitty litter doesn’t always cut it. We also need to limit the reasons to go outside. Many elderly people have pets and need to walk them which may not be the healthiest decision to go outside in these negative temperatures. They may also have the fear to leave their pet outside. The bracelet that I mentioned earlier could be linked to a dogs’ collar. Once the dog is let out in the back yard (or a wireless fence), the owner could go about their business. Once the dog is finished and approaches the door, a sensor on the door can set off a notification on the bracelet, allowing the owner to know that their dog is still outside and is ready to come in.

I think about these issues every day. Even though my parents are younger than most people that are considered seniors, there is a reason to be worried about them. I want them to live long, happy, and healthy lives and that is exactly what they deserve. I would be heartbroken if I lost one of my parents because they slipped on the ice; it is one of my biggest fears that I wish could be resolved.

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