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 Michaelle James

My major at UW-Stout is dietetics. A dietitian is a professional in diet and nutrition. Dietitians work in the prevention and management of disease. Dietetics can improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services as specialists in nutrition and aging. When learning about a patient’s health history, favorite foods, eating and exercise habits, the Registered Dietitian (RD) then assists the person to set goals and prioritize. Follow-up appointments usually center on maintenance and monitoring progress.

In-home care would be a practical job where a RD would shine. Seniors look for someone to trust with their nutrition and health. A professional dietitian would be trust-worthy in healthy lifestyle setting for the elderly. Designing a regular schedule to assist in what is necessary and needful for individual care would be the first step in improving a seniors’ life. Meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparations and monitoring intake amounts of food are the next steps. Any medical needs would also be included. Specialty diets, such as diabetes, obesity, and/or food allergies, would all be taken into account.

For a friends’ grandfather, I worked in his home in cleaning his kitchen, living room and bathroom. His eye sight was failing so I was hired to clean his home. I wanted to be able to do more to assist him as in prepare meals but felt I did not have the education, yet. His family took turns in taking him to doctor appointments and visits to friends and family. I learned that there needs to be a team of people to care for the elderly.

Integrating the family, physicians, occupational therapists (if needed), insurance, and personal preferences would be the key to becoming a great RD. Balancing each of these needs for the benefit of a client takes more than a professional, it takes a friend. Building a trusting friendship between an RD and a client is critical to the success of a healthy client. The RD would also need to balance her business, with educating the client and family, any disease prevention or maintenance, and with any new research information available. Giving independence and dignity to the senior would be included for the whole team.

Both of my grandmothers lived to be almost 100 years old. They both had in-home care until they passed away. Their care-givers became part of our family, they became our good friends. We could call and speak with grandma and then speak with their care givers to check on their health and needs. Both grandmothers were most comfortable being in their own homes, not in a clinical setting or a retirement home. This was their choice. We respected them and their wishes.

Becoming a dietitian, I plan to respect my clients and help them achieve their best health. Dietetics can improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services as specialists in nutrition and aging. My grandmothers’ examples and their longevity encourage me to continue to pursue improving the lives of clients in my future.

About Michaelle

Michaelle is a sophomore Dietetic Major at UW- Stout located in Menomonie, WI.

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