Gerontological Social Work

  • This field of work deals with the elderly population and assessing how their aging affects various aspects of life ranging from physiological, to psychological, and social functioning to name a few.
  • Not everyone ages the same. There are four ways to assess age; by chronological age, biological age, psychological age, and social age. In doing so, social workers are able to best assess the characteristics and needs of their client through a biopsychosocial approach.
  • Field has good job prospects as the demand for gerontological services grows due to the fact that those aged sixty five and over make up nearly 15% of the population.
  • Field also faces trouble though, as shortages continue, not enough people are being drawn into the field. This may be due to the fact that there is a sort of stigma around death and dying that doesn’t make end of life care appealing in our culture.
  • Certain subpopulations within the elderly may be at higher risk of suffering economic or health difficulties. For example, women and minorities dealt with gender and racial discrimination back in the day that didn’t enable them to save as much as they would’ve liked to ensure economic security.

While many may be scared to work with the elderly, it can be a very rewarding experience. Death  and dying is a very touchy topic in our culture, and often times people do not understand how to accept it or move on from it. Social workers in this field play a very important medium between various age groups and must encourage community involvement as the elderly can offer a lot of insight and advice that younger people can learn from.

Sources:

Class notes – Professor John Vassello, MSW

DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

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