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 Milana Howe
Occupational therapy is a treatment that involves helping people live more independent and productive lives by incorporating meaningful activities to promote participation in everyday life. Occupational therapists work with many different age groups, including seniors and their mission is to help individuals overcome physical challenges and enable them to live more independent and productive life. They teach self-care tasks such as homemaking, cooking, eating, dressing and grooming among other activities. Occupational therapists work with the elderly in different settings including assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day care centers and community senior centers. Currently pursuing a degree in Occupational Therapy, in this essay I will discuss how my major of study will improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services.
I would like to start out with the most common issue that many adults are facing today: a painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints, also known as arthritis. Arthritis is mostly common in adults who are 65 years or older, however people of all ages could be affected. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease, an estimated 52.5 million of U.S. adults are diagnosed with arthritis. By 2030, that number is expected to increase to 67 million. As the number of elderly individuals is also expected to rise with many of them being affected by arthritis, occupational therapists will be much needed in places such as nursing homes to provide treatment and aid to seniors with arthritis. Occupational therapists may include heat or cold to assist with pain management and enhance the senior’s ability to perform daily tasks, techniques to control inflammation through exercise, and therapeutic activities and exercise to promote fine motor control, endurance, and strength. Occupational therapists may also advice older people on techniques that will protect joints and ways to conserve energy.
Memory loss is also another common problem among many elderly individuals. It occurs naturally, and usually it is little things such as names, age, or memories that seniors often times forget. However, memory loss can become dangerous when one forgets how to perform daily tasks, manage his or her living environment, or use appliances. Occupational therapists often help the elderly who suffer from memory loss in different aspects that include: helping the older person find strategies for managing on a day-to-day basis, adapting a person’s home to make life easier, and advising safety for tasks such as cooking and road awareness.
Having good health and wellness is very important for a person of any age, however it is crucial for seniors. Though occupational therapists generally focus on the physical and mental health of an individual, they also support emotional support as well. Some seniors living in home care services may encounter depression, loneliness, or they may be shy around other seniors or care givers. Because occupational therapists hold interpersonal relationships with clients, it could eliminate feelings of loneliness and possibly depression. Occupational therapists can also assess the senior’s caregiver about his or her daily needs as well as find social activities for the senior to become a part of.
In conclusion, occupational therapists provide numerous benefits for seniors receiving in-home care services. Preventing injuries, learning new tasks, and developing relationships could all be done to make the quality of life better and worth living for seniors. Occupational therapy can make a significant difference in helping seniors to experience a healthier, happier, and easier lifestyle.
Milana is currently a student at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.