The SeniorHomes.com Student Caregiver Scholarship award two university students in the U.S. a $1,000 grant for tuition and/or books, based on each applicant’s essay or video story submission. After reviewing nearly 100 applications from students throughout the nation, our judges deemed the following two students most worthy of this year’s prize.
Jeremy Coleman | Colorado State University
We asked applicants to tell us about the trends or services they believe will become increasingly important for seniors who want to age in place, and how their degree will help seniors age with dignity. This was Jeremy’s winning response.
What do you think about when you hear "the other family doctor?" Your optometrist? No. Your pediatrician? No. Maybe your gynecologist? No. Your veterinarian is the other family doctor.
More than half of Americans own a pet, whether it be a fish, dog, cat or iguana, and pets provide a wide range of services for humans. Personally, I have a pet rabbit which is my emotional support animal, or ESA. And there are numerous other services that animals can provide including being a companion pet, a therapy animal, a working animal and a service animal.
Seniors living in their own homes want to be able to continue to have as much freedom as possible. Enter pets and veterinarians. With my studies in the veterinary field, I have seen a wide range of things that animals can do and the results are awe-inspiring. With my degree, I hope to improve the lives of seniors living at home by providing them with pets of their own.
For instance, animals can be trained to help seniors get groceries at the store, walk on the sidewalk and even be able to know when the individual needs help to get off of the couch. Instead of having another person follow you around the store or gym, let a dog follow you around. Service animals are commonly seen on college campuses for students who need them.
Another way animals can help seniors at home is solely as companion animals that the senior can interact with on a daily basis. For me, my pet rabbit has been a saving grace because on days when I don’t want to get out bed or just want to sleep in and ignore my duties as a student, he’s a constant reminder that I have to resume my day-to-day activities because he is relying on me to eat, drink water and get exercise.
The experience of having a companion animal is immeasurable because of the unconditional loyalty and joy it can bring to any room. Having pets in senior care homes can also be helpful in reassuring the residents that they, too, can support another living thing. Having a pet can help encourage older adults to be more active and get outside more often.
With my degree, I can help support the lives of seniors in their own communities by providing them with a pet they can call their own and that could help them get through each day smiling and more revitalized. The impact animals have on people cannot be simply stated. In my town of Fort Collins, everyone you meet has a pet, and this speaks volumes.
This scholarship will be helpful to me because I’ll be able to continue my education toward helping everyone live a healthier life with the aid of pets and animals.
Kayla Sherrodd | University of Wyoming
We asked applicants to tell us about the trends or services they believe will become increasingly important for seniors who want to age in place, and how their degree will help seniors age with dignity. This was Kayla’s winning response.
Home is a safe place. Whether you live in a bustling city or a wide-open space in the country, home brings a sense of security and comfort. The thought of migrating from a well-known home to an assisted living facility may be daunting, which is why the use of services for those to age in place grows increasingly important.
The decision to grow old in your own home should be met with welfare and dignity, and services such as fall-proof assessments and remote monitoring make aging in place achievable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are a major hazard for the elderly.
In my experience as a certified nursing assistant, many fall risks could be prevented through fall assessments or devices to reduce falls. Home health certified nursing assistants or nurses can receive training to do fall-proof assessments in an individual’s home. These assessments can vary from checking carpet thickness and sturdiness and the appropriate placement of grab bars, such as in bathtubs and showers. These adaptations can be applied to make an environment free of fall risks, encompassing a genuinely safe home.
Health not only depends on the safety of a home but also the well being of the individual. Through the advancement of technology, prior tasks requiring doctors to be present can be achieved in a home environment through remote monitoring.
Remote monitoring includes the use of monitors to transmit data to doctors about the patient’s overall health. This may include scales that transmit an individual’s weight immediately to a doctor or monitors that track when a person is eating, or when they open and close a refrigerator.
Other monitors include those that measure the weight of medications and those that emit a beep alerting someone to take their medications. The use of new technology can help keep seniors in their homes for an extended amount of time. It’s an upgraded home, but it is still home.
A passion for caring for others is something I’ve embodied ever since my first day working at a nursing home. I witnessed the emotional hardship many residents experienced being out of their homes, and I would do my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Currently, I’m a sophomore in nursing school and have been working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for about two years. I find it an honor to be a part of someone’s life as they grow older and want to continue helping others through geriatric nursing.
Showing respect and maintaining dignity are important things I’ve learned throughout CNA training and nursing school and is something that can establish trust between patients and their care providers. This involves giving a patient privacy, including them in decision making and treating them as an individual.
Nursing is a career that can significantly impact the lives of others, and I hope I can make many homes safer and people more comfortable when they’re away from home.
These responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.