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Senior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalist Lani Hashimoto-Raju

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenSeptember 15, 2013

A Place for Mom is proud to announce the commencement of their annual $1,000 scholarship for advancement in the field of gerontology. This is a general scholarship which will award the selected applicants with a financial donation. We have narrowed-down the finalists, which includes Lani Hashimoto-Raju.

Congratulations to Lani Hashimoto-Raju, Senior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalist! Read Lani’s essay below and vote for her if you think she deserves to be one of the 5 recipients of the $1,000 scholarship awards.

Lani’s Essay

As the baby boomer generation approach their golden years, we are seeing a shift in both our labor force as well as our economy. As our older generation reach retirement age, many worry how they will fair financially in their “after work life.” Many wonder who will look after them when their body begins to fail them. Sadly, able body retirees are often forced to come to take meager wage positions to make ends meet. The Silver Tsunami is upon us and unfortunately many are ill prepared.

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During the summer semester of my initial nursing training, I was assigned to the local skilled nursing facility for my gerontology rotation. It was an invaluable learning experience. On my days off, I began visiting different patients in the nursing home. Initially, the residents there would only make small talk. Often times, they would regale me with the same stories over and over again. As the summer progressed and my visits became more regular, the residents started to recognize me. This became a regular part of my week, even after the summer semester came to an end. I enjoyed visiting the residents at the skilled nursing facility and looked forward to listening to their life stories. I continued to visit up until the time they came under new management and the visitor policy changed.

The disparity between the care giver workforce and senior population has become much more pronounced as the caregivers themselves now find that they need help. Many adult children are faced with finding suitable caregivers for their aging loved ones. Current senior care options include Adult Day Care, Skilled Nursing or Convalescent Homes and in home care. Often times, care givers with no formal training assist with activities of daily living, as well as medication administration. During formal nursing training, students study pharmacology, gerontology as well as therapeutic communication. These are all skills that should be required of competent senior caregivers, considering that our aging seniors often have complex medical histories, with multiple comorbidities. Just as high school students have a required number of community service hours, nursing students should be held to the same standard and meet a similar requirement for graduation.

The innovative solution that I propose would be to draw from the nursing student population and integrate required volunteer hours of senior care into registered nursing curriculum. As our population ages and medicine advances, we are faced with an overall older population.  During my acute nursing care experience, the majority of my patients were 65 year old and older.  Having student nurses volunteer would serve two purposes. Seniors would receive much needed skilled care and the nursing students would gain real patient care experience.

There is no one absolute solution to the “Silver Tsunami.” Change doesn’t happen overnight. Whether the care is given in home or at a licensed facility, the benefits of having nursing students volunteer their time could be immeasurable. My professional goals include earning a Master’s Degree in Nursing, with a focus on education. I would strive towards implementing statewide change for all nursing programs to include my proposal. Although it would only be a small contribution, the collective contributions of everyone trying to make a difference could be the solution.

View otherSenior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalists. Don’t hesitate to congratulate and vote for Lani in the comment form below if you think her essay is one of the most compelling of all the finalists. Keep in mind we are awarding 5 of the finalists with $1,000 which they can use toward their studies. 

Dana Larsen
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Dana Larsen

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