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 Josie Heath, University of Maine at Orono

In-home care service is a topic that doesn’t receive as much attention as it deserves. For these senior citizens, remaining independent is an important factor in their lives. That is why being able to live at home while receiving aid is a wonderful thing. However, there is a right way to go about this that will keep their integrity intact. Therefore, improvements in this area must be made in order to ensure the comfort and well-being of all seniors.

As a current nursing student, I have pledged to always do whatever I can to make sure a patient is well taken care of. I want to bring a smile to those around me, no matter their circumstance. My hope is to not only become a hardworking and dedicated nurse, but to become someone that can be counted on for guidance and support. Since I may one day work in a nursing home or as an in-home provider, it is essential that I know the best way to care for those I’m working with.

Since my major may lead me to a position caring for the elderly, it is important that I am a part of the movement that improves these conditions. Therefore, I am lucky to have seen firsthand the positives and negatives of receiving in home care. My great-grandmother is 93 years old and lives at home with my grandmother. Besides beginning to lose her vision, she is relatively healthy and for the most part, she is able to move around on her own.

As she continues to get less steady on her feet, my grandmother hired an in-home care giver to help with her bathing and grooming. Although she was nice enough, she did not take into account the little things that would make my great-grandmother more comfortable with the intrusion of a stranger washing her. For example, my great- grandmother would later complain to me about simple things like she did not wash between her toes or cut her fingernails short enough. Seeing the helpless look in her eyes as she spoke, I then took it upon myself to do these extra things that her provider continuously neglected. I would take a washing pan filled with soap and scrub her feet then cut her nails. It isn’t the most glamorous thing I’ve ever done, but seeing her heart felt appreciation made it well worth it.

It’s in those little moments that we share that I know I want to help improve the lives of seniors receiving in home care services. Majoring in nursing will teach me exactly what I need to know about interacting with patients and caring for them in the best way possible. However, I also know that succeeding in this will require a personal investment. Once I take a real interest in my senior patients, I will truly begin to care about them. Then, I will no longer be doing a mindless task, but actually improving their situation.

We cannot forget that no matter how much help senior citizens need, they never become less of a person. When receiving in home care, they need to feel comfortable and understood. Simply asking questions about how they would like something done, makes them feel like they are the one in control. As much as we would like to deny it, we will all need some sort of help once we reach a certain age. Therefore, I will do whatever I can to be the kind of caregiver that I can only hope to receive in the future. It is time that others do the same.

About Josie

Josie is currently a freshman at the University of Maine at Orono.

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