Geriatric Social Workers Help Protect the Elderly
Most people know that social workers assist with family interventions and oversee issues like foster care and child protection. You may not realize, however, that they also assist with care for the elderly. Geriatric social workers specialize in helping people over the age of 65 by addressing challenges associated with self-care, mental health, physical changes, and receiving assistive services. They offer resources to families seeking to provide the medical care and support services their loved ones need as they age.
Responsibilities of a Geriatric Social Worker
Geriatric social workers operate within a number of different spheres, depending on the specific needs of the elderly person and his or her family. Specifically, a social worker can provide:
- Information about available services. A social worker can tell you what social and health care services your loved one qualifies for. He or she can help you through the sometimes complicated process of applying for services and gathering needed information.
- Assistance with home care options. If your elderly one desires to remain at home, a social worker can recommend when home care is needed and will make regular visits to ensure that the home environment is safe, clean, and healthy.
- Counseling for family members. If you need assistance in making decisions about your loved one’s care or medical situation, a social worker can present options and help you determine what course of action will be most beneficial. He or she can also talk with you about end-of-life issues, discuss a possible transition to a long-term care facility, and answer any questions you may have during the process.
- Clinical Intervention. Elderly people often suffer from depression or anxiety. A social worker can step in to get your loved one the help needed, and can also create social opportunities and outings for seniors who feel lonely.
- Advocacy. Elder abuse is more prevalent than many people realize, and a geriatric social worker can help identify any instances of mistreatment. He or she has been trained to recognize the signs of abuse and will report suspected cases to the proper authorities.
Addressing the Need for Geriatric Social Workers
Many families face serious decisions as their elderly loved ones experience the challenges of aging. Mental health concerns and physical limitations can create difficulties both for seniors trying to maintain a healthy quality of life and for their families. As Baby Boomers reach their golden years, the number of seniors needing such help is quickly increasing. The good news is that many organizations are stepping up to help fill the need by creating awareness and training opportunities for gerontological social workers. The Geriatric Social Work Initiative, the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education, and other similar organizations seek to facilitate the training of social workers who will serve the needs of elderly people and their families. These workers will address health care needs, mental health concerns, home care decisions, and many other challenges that arise as part of the aging process.
How a Geriatric Social Worker Can Help Your Elderly Loved One
If you suspect that your loved one could benefit from the intervention of a geriatric social worker, your local Area Agency on Aging can put you in contact with community resources that can help you. Your doctor may also be able to recommend an agency or organization who can help you get the help your loved one needs. The assistance of a social worker may be especially important if you suspect that your loved one needs the services of an in-home caregiver, but he or she resists the idea. Social workers can provide the counseling and emotional support elderly people need to help them make necessary life transitions successfully.
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