SeniorCare.com Aging Matters Scholarship
Apply NOW to Win Our $1,500 Scholarship

Application Deadline: May 15th, 2018

SeniorCare.com is dedicated to helping seniors and their families in their quest for a better life. Aging impacts everyone and as the aging population explodes over the next 30 years, SeniorCare.com wants to bring more awareness to the key issues we face. We will be awarding an annual college scholarship to an individual that best demonstrates to us why "Aging Matters" to them.

We are excited to announce the SeniorCare.com Aging Matters Scholarship. A $1500 scholarship will be given annually to a selected college student that currently cares for an aging loved one, works within the senior community, or intends to pursue a career that will have an impact on the elder population. Any existing student (or incoming freshman), in good academic standing, at a 2 or 4 year accredited college can apply for this scholarship. And the recipient will demonstrate a unique and admirable understanding and desire to show us that "Aging Matters" to them.

The SeniorCare.com Aging Matters Scholarship awards $1500 to be applied towards tuition, books, board and other expenses.

Scholarship Details:

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Duration: One-Time Payment
  • Number of Recipients: 1 per year
  • Applications accepted beginning October 15th for awards the following year
  • Deadline Date: May 15th, 2018
  • Selection Date: June 15th, 2018
  • Announcement Date: As soon as the recipient is contacted and eligibility confirmed

Application Requirements:

  • An existing college student or incoming freshman (to be enrolled in the Fall of 2018 in good academic standing)
  • Attending any 2 year or 4 year accredited college or university as a full-time student
  • Complete and submit the application form.
  • Judging will be based on the submission quality of the application, which will include a short, 1000 word or less essay on why Aging Matters to the applicant.

Congratulations to Our Past Winners


Melissa McSweeney
Melissa McSweeney (2017)
Barrington High School in Barrington, Illinois
Beginning the M.Sc. track at McGill University's Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience in the Fall of 2017

 

Melissa's Submission:

According to a survey conducted by the National Council on Aging in 2015, 35% of older adults reported that memory loss was their top concern about aging. The fact that this was the second most prevalent worry among those surveyed is justified--older adulthood is the stage of the lifespan when indulging in fond memories can be especially fulfilling, yet it is also the stage at which these memories are most likely to be subject to erasure due to age-related cognitive decline and the heightened risk of having a neurodegenerative disease. Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia, and its emotional and financial tolls on patients and their families can be devastating.

I intend to dedicate the rest of my life to researching and working with older adults who have, or are at risk for developing, a Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. To prepare for this goal, I've thus far earned a B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Northwestern University in 2015, and have conducted over four years of research on aging and memory from biological, neurological, cognitive, and neuropsychological standpoints. Currently, I am working as a full time, live-in caregiver for an older adult with Alzheimer's disease. This August, I will begin a Neuroscience M.Sc. program at McGill University where I will continue to conduct research on Alzheimer's disease. I plan to apply my scientific training and humanistic approach to aging research in order to investigate interdisciplinary predictive factors of the impending onset of dementia. My research at McGill will hopefully help prevent people from having to suffer from it in the first place, at least to the same extent, by optimizing the applications of brain-imaging and biomarkers to detect Alzheimer's disease before it wreaks havoc on one's cognitive faculties.

Though my past coursework and opportunities have led me to specialize in research related to Alzheimer's disease, my passion for the field of memory and aging is rooted in my personal experience with a different neurodegenerative disease. When I was a child, I watched my grandmother progress through the stages of Parkinson's disease for seven years, noticing her hands and her cognition become shakier as the disease progressed. She no longer found joy in cooking her illustrious traditional Danish meals or sharing stories about her past, and she often forgot why I was talking to her and who I was all together. Witnessing my clever and compassionate grandmother lose her memory, experience scary hallucinations, and undergo a complete personality transformation was one of the most painful, helpless, yet profoundly impactful experiences I've had so far in my life, as it led me to ponder the causes of dementia and how it can be prevented. I hope to honor her legacy by applying my education to helping people like my grandmother, as this creative spirit still had so much to offer before the dementia took hold.

After having undertaken neuroscience research in multiple laboratory settings, I have come to realize that controlled experiments are necessary but insufficient to treat dementia. Patients are more than just data points; they are people whose treatments should be personalized. To address this gap in my understanding of neurodegeneration, I decided to take a temporary hiatus from laboratory-based research to work as a live-in caregiver for an older adult with Alzheimer's disease. Since I was 15 years old when my grandmother passed away from Parkinson's disease, I wasn't educationally or emotionally capable of taking care of her at the time. Now equipped with my scientific background and newfound knowledge of neurodegeneration, I hoped that observing patients within their daily lives would give me valuable insight into potential treatments for dementia, and my experience so far has indeed generated a plethora of new research questions and ideas.

Working as a caregiver, I've experienced firsthand both the transience and the resilience of human memory. My client, a man of exceptional intellectual prowess and success in his former career, can vividly describe the spatial relations between streets and buildings in his childhood hometown, but he can't recall what he had just eaten for dinner. Yet there are moments that these oft-forgotten, short-term memories linger longer than usual. With the consent and encouragement of his family and the caregiving agency, I rigorously record these moments that he holds on to and track them over time. What type of information sticks with him, and more importantly, why? Through caregiving, I am exploring the "what" question, and through my graduate training and future career goals, I aim to use what I learn in order to determine "why."

It's understandable to believe that aging matters because older adults are sentient encyclopedias of the past, with memories of their stories analogous to fragile, handwritten archives that can only be decoded by the archivists themselves. It's also tempting to assert that aging matters because their neurobiological and cognitive transformations offer fantastic insight into the mechanisms of the human brain. Through my experience as a caregiver, however, I've learned that it's imperative to recognize that aging people don't only matter because of their connections to the past or their usefulness as research subjects. Older adults still have goals and, ideally, more memories to be made. I would use this scholarship to help fund my graduate research so I can try my best to prevent dementia from impeding the pursuit of their goals and dreams.


Gregory Troutman
Gregory Troutman (2016)
Hempfield High School in Landisville, Pennsylvania
Attending University of Pennsylvania

 

Gregory's Submission:

I am currently completing a Master in Bioethics degree and will be starting medical school next year. Since graduating from Lafayette College in May 2013, I have worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in cardiology to gauge whether or not my passions truly lie in healthcare. Working in a clinical setting has solidified my interest both in cardiology, and working with an aging population. I have been amazed to witness firsthand the incredible technological advancements that allow us to redefine the way we can heal senior citizens. I have been amazed to see how resilient elderly patients can be when faced with something that initially seems like a horrifying illness. I have enjoyed shadowing physicians here who are experts not only in taking patients' histories and developing treatment plans, but making this a two-way conversation where elderly patients can express their own values and interests and have an active role in their own decision making.

My grandfather, Thomas Casey, was born in Charlestown, Mayo, Ireland and immigrated to the US with his parents at a young age. The son of a railroad worker, his parents were appalled when he expressed interest in attending college. "Do you think you're better than where you came from, that you would work with your brain instead of your back?" was my great-grandfather's response. It is difficult for me to come to terms with what this sort of family pressure must have been like, let along the financial burden of pursuing an education.

My grandfather has never once complained about this interaction- rather, he used this to encourage my mother to pursue higher education, along with myself. Hearing of his hardships growing up has helped me to feel thankful for the opportunities I have been blessed with. In many ways, I feel that I would not currently be pursuing higher education if my family had not been so adamant that the best way to improve my life was to increase my knowledge. When school gets tough, and the hours in the library seem endless, I always think of Tom Casey and how much tougher it must have been for him. I am blessed with a supportive family who is always eager to hear about what I am learning. I can't imagine putting myself through college without the emotional support, let alone disapproval, from family.

This above all has taught me not to view senior citizens merely in the present, but to attempt to dig deeper into their past to learn about and learn from the many challenges they have faced and overcame. I feel that by hearing my grandfather's, and other senior citizens', stories I not only gain a deeper understanding of their values, but a better appreciation for the things I have been afforded in life.

I am currently pursuing a Master in Bioethics degree and beginning medical school next year, with a particular interest in gerontology. As America's aging population is ever increasing, it is important to not only focus on the necessary medical specializations needed to cater healthcare towards the elderly, but also the ethical and health policy implications of this. The elderly are full of diverse life experiences and knowledge. We have much to learn from them, especially as clinicians. Andy Rooney words it perfectly when he says, "the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person." I felt that Tom Casey, my grandfather, was a teacher not only of the history he lived through, but of the culture and values of his generation. Hearing his unique experiences has made me more curious about other's upbringing, and how family dynamics and time periods have shifted the way we think of work, children, and life in general.

As a budding physician, I hope to take these lessons to heart not only to be thankful for the education I am pursuing, but also to remind myself to always dig deeper into an elderly patient's story. By elucidating their past, values, and priorities, I will do the best job I can to ensure that we can create a health plan together for them to best live their life the way the please. Additionally, I aim to apply my studies to generate meaningful health policy changes to help heal the aging population in general in a more meaningful manner.

Although my grandfather is no longer with us physically today, I can feel his presence watching over me and supporting me throughout my studies. I know I will think of him as I am treating elderly patients one day, and will be thankful for the mentoring and encouragement he provided that has caused me to prioritize education the way I do.

I feel that I would be a good candidate for this scholarship, as I hope to combine my current training in bioethics and eventual medical training to gain both strong clinical ethics and mediation skills to assist in difficult end of life decisions, but also to work towards generating health policies that work the improve treatment for the elderly on a population level. Unfortunately this educational path comes with a hard financial burden, and I am eager and appreciative to be considered for awards to offset the financial barriers to pursuing what I love. Thank you for considering my application!


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Essay: Why Aging Matters to You

Suggested length: 800-1000 words. Current length: word(s)

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