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 the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Angel Astorga
Every morning I would make Maria some coffee, oatmeal and a piece of bread. Then I would lift her out of bed and into her wheelchair. Being a young man, I could handle picking up all her weight and moving her since she could not walk anymore. After that I would take her to the restroom and help her to sit on the toilet. Finally I would then help her again by lifting her up and placing her on our couch to watch television for the rest of the day, that was one of her favorite things to do. This was my morning routine.
The problem was lifting her up was physically demanding and lifting put stress and awkward weight on my back. A few times I pulled some back muscles and was in pain. I called the insurance company to figure out some solutions to make my daily routine a little easier on my back. They recommended a new toilet that is higher so I wouldn’t have to bend down as much, Higher furniture so I would not have to bend down as much. They even sent out a nurse to our house to train us on proper lifting techniques. I know they have hoist slings which are great for hospitals that are handicap friendly and engineered around moving patients and have a lot of space. Even my auntie who is a nurse says those hoist slings are not practical for your everyday use in a regular home. Those slings also put a lot of stress on the patients body, especially if the patient is old and sensitive. We also got a top of the line bed for her from our insurance company to help but she kept bruising her arms on the cold hard aluminum metal. Taking her off the bed was easy, but me and my grandma had to lift her twice as high to get her into her bed. Although I tried all of these ideas, none of them worked at all. These products help in one way but always had a negative side effect. There were times when I was at school and my grandmother Lupe had to lift her but simply could not because it was extremely difficult. I cannot imagine how other older caregivers lift up their patients. I have a lot of respect for them because it is hard work.
The solution to this problem is developing a mobile machine to assist you in lifting your patients weight. I know it takes a lot of money to research and develop a machine like this but that’s the only option. We should all notify our caregiver unions and insurance companies and cry out for help. They have the funding to engineer new technology to help. I know that my grandmother Lupe could not lift up her mom Maria. How many people in America are suffering in silence performing back breaking work lifting their patients? That’s why we need to solve this problem and run campaigns to engineer mobile lifting machines. I am attending school to become a mechanical engineer. My dream is to develop products in the medical industry to help serve people. People are the most important investment in life and nothing compares to them. If we all act together as a team and relay this important message that us caregivers are going through, I’m sure one day somebody with passion for the elderly will contribute to solving this difficult challenge.
Angel is studying to be a mechanical engineer.