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 Hannah Booker, Bradley University
Baby boomers plus the elderly populations increased need for healthcare services equals a demand for medical careers. Physical therapy plays into this equation by helping patients reduce pain and improve mobility to achieve long-term health benefits. I can’t transform the entire baby boomer population alone, but I can transform one patient at a time. Soon all those “ones” do more than add up, they multiply and equal CHANGE. How I will embody this vision as a future physical therapist (PT) was best put by Mother Theresa who said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Putting love into every patient interaction will lead to a change that lasts by improving the lives of seniors.
As a PT, I will encourage my patients to put their best effort into the “small things” in order to achieve substantial results. I will help my patients value the little accomplishments. Many people associate success with singular major accomplishments, but more often than not, success stems from repetitive action. Adopting an encouraging attitude will allow me to help seniors regain their independence and strength. The knowledge I gain from my major will help seniors overcome their physical challenges and make the most of their recovery.
Physical therapy does much more than restore movement, it transforms the whole person. I saw how optimizing movement transforms the whole person during two PT mission trips to the Dominican Republic. The first year our team treated a young man with uncoordinated motor and speech patterns due to a traumatic brain injury. We designed a program to optimize his recovery but the extensiveness of the damage did not paint a very bright future. I wondered what the future would look like for this man who instantly became totally dependent on others for care. The following year, we returned to the clinic and in wheeled this same patient. The progress had he made in one year from physical therapy made him seem like a completely new man. Now he was speaking in full sentences and even walking with the assistance of the therapist. He was beaming with pride from his remarkable progress and regained independence. His smile and positive attitude were an encouragement to everyone around him. This experience allowed me to see how I can be part of transforming the lives of seniors receiving in-home care. Seniors vary in the amount they depend on others for care but the desire to be more independent is constant. I will apply what I learned from my major to evaluate areas for improvement and consequently address those needs with therapy exercises. I will have the chance to positively impact seniors on a daily basis by helping them help themselves.
Everyday I am going to serve my patients to the best of my knowledge and ability as a PT. Nelson Henderson once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Like when planting trees, I will provide seniors with the care they need to remain strong for years to come. I will take advantage of the time I have to work with patients to optimize their movement to improve their lives. I will plant the seeds of societal transformation one seed – or patient – at a time by optimizing movement to ensure the well-being of seniors far into the future.
Hannah is a senior at Bradley University and working toward a Bachelors of Science in Health Science.