As people age, they face challenges that are hard to take on alone. While family and friends have the best interests of their loved ones at heart, they don’t necessarily have the training, experience, and resources that might be necessary for an older adult to live their best life. National Social Worker’s Month is an excellent time to learn more about an important resource available for older adults.
What is a Geriatric Social Worker?
Geriatric or senior social workers are trained and often licensed individuals who specialize in caring for the welfare of aging adults as well as their families and communities. Able to work with people experiencing age-related challenges, geriatric social workers generally work with 65+ individuals, couples, and their families. They identify specific environmental, social, health, and other issues that might be impacting the continued health, safety, and measure of independence of an older person. They serve an empowering and protective role, utilizing their training and knowledge to support their clients.
What Do Social Workers Do For Older Adults?
Beginning with an assessment, geriatric social workers identify and assist older adults with a variety of challenges. There are three areas in which social workers provide resources: access to social services, mental health, and advocacy. Mental health assistance comes in the form of counseling on aging, end-of-life, and other issues that arise for older adults. Advocacy involves helping vulnerable elderly individuals gain the protection that they need. Finally, the complex governmental and private resources available to older adults, both free and for a cost, are not always apparent or easy to access. Social workers help with finding the right resources, completing applications, and facilitating the use of things like Medicare, senior day care, Meals on Wheels, and the many other services available to the elderly.
Among the most common resources is in-home care, for which social workers help determine the best solution for each individual’s needs. The social worker can identify the places where an older adult needs assistance to maintain independence and stay in their home. If the family is not nearby or able to take on responsibilities for an older adult, a social worker can devise a plan and find in-home care that can help. The social worker remains a presence, coordinating the assistance needed by the older adult, periodically reassessing to make sure the plan is meeting the needs of the moment, and acting as a liaison with family as well as the larger support network of the individual, including medical and providers.
We recommend visiting www.midatlanticalca.org for a listing of Aging Life Care Managers in the Mid Atlantic. Geriatric social workers are often called, Aging Life Care Professionals.
At SmithLife Homecare, we are grateful for the hard work and expertise of geriatric social workers who recognize and address the needs of their aging clients. We provide many of the services that their clients need, and we gladly work with our colleagues in social work to make sure that our clients are safe, comfortable, and able to live their best lives. To learn more about our services, contact us today.