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.
What is the top challenge facing in-home care in your city, and what is your proposed solution?
Essay response by Patrick Schwoerer
Just recently my grandmother passed away. She died at the age of 99 and was living at home by herself for 77 years until she was 97. I know first-hand many of the challenges that come along with in-home care. Being able to live at home is something that many take for granted until they have a loved one who is in that position. For many elderly people living at home keeps them sane and healthy. Once moved out of their “natural lifestyle” their health deteriorates which I saw first-hand with my grandmother. The reason why my family made the choice to move her into from in-home care to an assisted living facility was because my grandmother was bored.
Boredom has been the most common problem with elderly people with in-home living in my community . Most of the individuals who use in-home living in my community do it because they have recently lost their spouse and their relatives cannot easily help out on a daily basis. Due to this, the individual has to get help from in-home living services. The bad thing about these are that the individual and the caregiver in most cases have never met before and do not have many things in common. The ages of the two are different and the activities preferred are different so there is a big disconnect. These helpers are to help out in a physical way with things that can’t be done, so there are not many social interactions that go on during the aid that these people are providing. With that being said, having somebody to talk to and give these elderly people company means the world to a lot of these individuals.
Every time that I visited my grandmother at home would complain about how bored she was and how she had nobody to talk to. This is true for other elderly relatives and friends that I had talked to when visiting as well. On the list of things that these in-home helpers do should include social interactions with the individuals. One hour of each visit should be used to socially interact with the elderly and keep them so to speak in the loop. This will spiritually raise their motivation and interaction which I believe will increase their health as well. My theory to this comes from past experiences that have occurred. I hear it all of the time in my community that when an elderly couple are living at home and when one dies, the other spouse’s health deteriorates immensely. This is not due to the lack of assistance from others, it is due to the emotional well-being of the individual being effected. To help dissolve this problem elderly people should be actively involved at least socially with others of their age.
This is where in-home care workers come in hand. Many elderly people live in apartments or in a particular area. Since one of the services that in-home care provides is transportation, it would be great to have these helpers have get-togethers with other elderly people to bring them together to socially engage these elders. This would give these individuals friendships and a boost of their spirits. This would help give the elderly people something to look forward to and would put a break in the many boring hours that are spent by themselves. While in these groups there still would be the in-home care helpers there to take care of the little problems that these elderly people face.
In-home care is to me one of the greatest things that have been done for individuals who need help but still want to live in the comfort of their homes. The services that they offer are great and numerous but if a service could include socializing or bonding, the service would be just that much better. Whether it be get-togethers for patients that can get around or as simply an hour of time talking to an in-home care helper to individuals who are bound to their home would greatly increase the lives of these people.
Patrick is currently in his second year at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac.