No Place Like Home
By Priscilla Worth – Student, OTA Program, KU Jacksonville
The surgical services department at the hospital where I work can be very challenging on a daily basis. With direct patient care every move I make is critical. Patients are scared, nervous, anxious, and even angry. Part of my responsibilities is to advocate for the patients by making them feel safe. Offering a warm blanket or holding their hand can make a huge difference.
Although I see various patients for various reasons, geriatrics dominates the scale by over 50%. Most are having surgery due to a fall or injury and even though each patient has their own story, there is always one part that never changes: they just want to go home. I want to help them achieve that as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.
Aging in place is extremely important to me because it plays a large role with the quality of life and social settings of a client. As soon as an elderly member has a fall or injury the first thing that comes to mind from most other family members is to remove the senior from his or her home. Home is a place that has a deep emotional connection. It is full of memories, photos, keepsakes, and has unique features and scents. For example, my grandmother’s home is within two blocks of a ware-house bakery and each morning the neighborhood is filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread.
At 76 years of age my grandmother currently has an active and fulfilling life. She goes on weekly outings with her friends. She prepares meals for our family and her ailing friends in the community who cannot cook for themselves and have no means of transportation. She loves to go fishing whenever possible, attends church, goes grocery shopping, and even takes trips out of town. All these social activities are important and have great meaning to my grandmother. It keeps her active and makes her happy. As she ages I want her to continue to do the things she enjoys. My goal is to implement treatment for all individuals so they too can continue to do what they enjoy, to have the best quality of life just like my grandmother.
By nature I am a very compassionate person. It is one of my strongest qualities and fits perfectly with the world of occupational therapy. I express empathy, kindness, and concern with ease. Just my sitting and listening to my grandmother talk about her health issues or concerns brings a level of comfort to her; she knows that someone truly cares about her well-being. Now I realize how important trips to the grocery store, doing laundry, cooking, and even cleaning are to maintaining independence. I love the profession of occupational therapy for many reasons but more specifically to help the aged like my grandmother live a rewarding life while successfully aging in place. Nothing would make me happier than knowing my grandmother was right where she wanted to be . . . at home.