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 Erika Lettner

Heart problems are common in the United States of America, impacting senior citizens needing in-home care. These include arrhythmias, heart defects, hypertension and many other medical issues. Studying Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering will allow me to understand the connections between biology and technology. My studies will lead the way to designing advanced devices and technologies that will help improve the medical field for healthcare in both hospitals and for in-home providers.

While there are already numerous devices for monitoring and collecting a vast amount of medical data for issues affecting the heart and the rest of the body, there is always room for improvement. When I was in the sixth grade my grandfather received several life- saving stents in his heart and years later underwent an operation to receive a pacemaker. As a child I was amazed at the immediate improvement that the operations caused in my grandfather and hoped that I could improve the heart health of another person’s family member. There are already monitors that can be purchased at a department store that monitor heart rate, caloric intake and connect to the user’s smartphone through a Bluetooth connection. My plan would be to adapt this technology to seniors with heart issues who are also receiving in-home care. I hope that my studies would allow for enough understanding of the cardiovascular system that I would be able to create a monitoring system. My system would consist of a monitor resting over the heart worn under a shirt by the patient via a minimal harness system. All that would be needed would be the monitor system and a wireless internet connection. The heart monitor would connect onto the internet in the same way that a laptop would connect. A senior’s caregiver and doctor could have an updated list of blood pressure, heart rate and other statistics and data at a moment’s notice. The monitor would send daily updates to the caregiver and physicians as well as alerts when a certain reading is at an unhealthy level that would result in the senior needing medical attention.

The university that I will be attending in the fall will be introducing Biomedical Engineering as a minor for the first time at the university. As part of the new program, the university will be establishing research facilities at the large regional hospital in town. Several floors will be dedicated to Biomedical Engineering research involving diagnostics, monitoring, therapy, teaching and experiential learning. Being one of the first students to participate in this program will present me with incredible opportunities to learn about the various applications of Biomedical Engineering to healthcare and solving health problems through engineering.

Heart problems are common in the United States of America, impacting senior citizens needing in-home care. Studying Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering will allow me to understand the connections between biology and technology. My studies will lead the way to me designing advanced devices and technologies that will help improve the healthcare for seniors in both hospitals and for in-home care. While there are already numerous devices for monitoring and collecting data, this technology can be adapted to monitoring seniors with heart issues who are also receiving in-home care. My education and involvement as one of the first students in the Biomedical Engineering program will present me with incredible opportunities to learn about the various applications of Biomedical Engineering to healthcare and solving health problems through engineering. I hope to improve the care of patients at hospitals and at home.


About Erika

In the fall of 2015, Erika will begin studying Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering.

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