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 Kelley Kossan
I am pursuing a Physical Therapy Assistants degree. Before applying to the program I had to complete many hours of volunteering and shadowing in different physical therapy settings, and it opened my eyes to many different possibilities and benefits that this therapy can have for a variety of people, especially seniors.
Many people think of PT as something you do after you’ve been injured, and you need to rehabilitate the muscle. Although this is something that seniors receiving in-home care do face and need on occasion, it is not the only way that physical therapy can be an asset to this demographic.
A senior that hasn’t had a specific injury, but may have a hard time climbing the stairs can benefit from PT. One that needs help getting something down from a higher cupboard can gain an advantage from PT. Many day-to-day actions that seniors may struggle with for a variety of reasons, can be improved by physical therapy.
During my volunteer time, I was able to assist a physical therapist with a patient that had Parkinson’s disease. Because of the disease many of his daily actions such as putting on his jacket, or climbing the stairs were things he couldn’t do on his own. However, by daily participating in exercises with help from both the PT and his caretakers, he was able to regain the ability to at least partially do those actions. I remember when he came one day, and told her he had been able to climb the stairs on his own.
Other patients that I was able to assist with experienced a greater level of independence by being able to move from a walker to a cane. We worked with some on exercises that increased their balance, helping them to walk more confidently. With some we worked on specific skills that they encountered in their every day lives.
Physical therapy can help with rehab, but it also helps in prevention. By strengthening core muscles, and improving balance and posture, the risk of falling and injury is decreased. Many of these exercises can also be done at home on the days that the PT doesn’t come, with the help of caretakers or family.
All these things can greatly improve a senior’s quality of life. Not only are they able to do more things independently, such as making their own meals or getting to their bedroom on their own, but it also helps them mentally to know that they are able to do things for themselves. Even if they still need in-home care for many things, the more they are able to do on their own, the better they will feel about themselves and the more they will be able to enjoy life. I also noticed that having goals that they’ve been able to reach and overcome gives them an added confidence.
I believe physical therapists could work with in-home health care services to help seniors stay at their homes in the best health possible for longer. Physical therapy is a critical aspect of staying healthy.
These are just a few of the reasons I chose to go into a physical therapy career. I am greatly looking forward to assisting people to better lives, or helping them overcome injuries.
Kelley aspires to be a physical therapist.