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 Sam Tindall
Kinesiology, more specifically Physical Therapy, is a crucial piece of the in-home care puzzle. Seniors are one, if not the biggest market for physical therapy. When they are in-home however, they may be neglected compared to someone living in a facility with access to multiple types of doctors every day. As these seniors age, if they are not getting regular exercise of all their major muscle groups, they will begin to atrophy and this can lead to not only weakness but a much higher chance of falls, being bed-ridden and encountering other injuries.
From working with Dr. Ashraf in Jordan to working with Dr. Grizmer here in Minnesota, I have seen many of the same situations. Many senior citizens are embarrassed to seek help or are relatively uninformed about their options. The wonderful thing about both of these men is that they are traveling doctors, or physical therapists to be more exact. They work with people of all ages, but I found that it was the seniors that were the hardest clientele to keep motivated… but only at the start.
Typically when a senior is in-home, they are still in a position of independence. The goal of the physical therapist is then to come along side the person with a positive attitude and encourage them to keep that independence. This can be done by strengthening their mobility and keeping them not just fully ambulatory but functioning at the best of their ability. This empowerment is what motivates someone in my degree of choice.
Kinesiology is the study of human movement. Within a Kinesiology degree one is able to learn the anatomy, physiology and biology of the human body. We need to learn how every ligament and tendon works in conjunction with muscles and tissues. We learn how a person, like a senior citizen, may be unable to turn their knee or elbow in a certain direction due to a nagging injury or even from a lack of cartilage.
My experience with working in group homes and different facilities has shown me that many seniors are neglected and not living in their optimal state. I once worked with a man who was in need of greater care than he was receiving. His health rapidly declined and our staff team was not trained on how to handle the situation. We had nurses come in to help us, but it was too late. I will never forget this man. I remember him now as we talk about ethics of care in our athletic training classes.
The child refugees and elderly displaced that I met in Jordan this last summer had lost everything. Many of them had been injured by gunfire or IEDs, others in muggings by the Islamic State. The people, especially the elderly, who had worked all of their lives, were not much different than those we have in the United States. They just want to enjoy the fruit of their labors and have an idea of what that is to look like. These refugees didn’t have that luxury and helping to restore even a fraction of their mobility meant so much more to them as they had nothing.
My hope is whether here or abroad my skills will be put to a great cause. When I am aging, I don’t want to be worried about whether I will be able to be mobile or enjoy my retirement. Though the debt is worrisome, I look forward to being able to finish this degree. I know that any difficulty I incur is worth the payoff in the end to help others less fortunate than myself.
Sam is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with a Pre-Physical Therapy focus with the aim to continue on into graduate school.