3 Facts About Geriatric Social Work

By Sam Engel

Geriatric (Elderly people) Social work is an often under-appreciated, yet highly necessary, branch of social work. It’s a field that has a varying range of ages, however the general consideration is that an individual is considered to be geriatric if they are over the age of 65. Here’s three facts about geriatric social work!

  1. A large portion of the elderly have disabilities that are extremely debilitating. In fact, about 1/3 of all elderly Americans have some form of a severe disability, and these disabilities become more severe as the individual becomes older (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 272). This is detrimental to the individual with the disability, however it is also detrimental to their wallet; the increasing severity of the disability is going to increase the costs of living, including the potential costs of palliative care later on in life.
  2. The elderly are often cared for by unpaid caretakers. Most of these people are family members of the individual that’s being cared for. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 34 million unpaid caretakers in the United States that provide care to those over the age of 50 (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 279). Most of the time, these people are spouses, children, or family-in-laws to the elderly individual.
  3. Protective services are extremely important. Unfortunately, physical and emotional abuse and neglect of the elderly does happen, whether either by a caretaker of the individual, or the individual themselves. The point at which the elderly cannot take care of themselves is a point when the elderly need help. It is considered a form of negligence, self-neglect, when the elderly are unwilling to accept care (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 281).


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