The world is in the midst of an unprecedented degree of population aging. In nearly every developed country around the world, more and more people are living well into their golden years. And along with the increased number of elderly people living in our society, there also comes the need for more assistance to help those individuals to live safe and independent lives. That’s where senior social workers come in. Although most people know social workers in reference to their role defending vulnerable children, the importance of geriatric social workers is rapidly expanding along with our aging populace.
What are Geriatric Social Workers?
Like with social workers for children, senior social workers are concerned with the welfare of communities, families, and individuals. Specializing in adults 65 and over, geriatric social workers are trained to find solutions to help address the numerous environmental challenges that come with aging. In short, it is their priority to improve the quality of lives of their clients, and ultimately to help protect the elderly from those who might try to take advantage of their vulnerabilities.
What Do Senior Social Workers Do?
One of the most common things a geriatric social worker does is to help clients deal with complicated government programs that they may not realize are out there and able to aid them. These programs include everything from social services and local community programs to healthcare providers and other legal entities.
Not only can senior social workers help their clients apply for services from a variety of public and private programs, they’re also experts who are able to help resolve any issues that may occur in the delivery of those services, including social services and obtaining funding for elder care. A Social workers for seniors are able to direct older adults to a number of beneficial programs, such as helping seniors gain access to local senior transportation, food delivery services like Meals on Wheels, in-home assistance services, and many other programs.
Additionally, geriatric social workers often provide counseling services that can help the elderly cope with many end-of-life issues. This counseling can make the transition from their home to a long-term care environment as smooth as possible. It can also reduce the burden of dealing with a variety of common issues facing the elderly, including the creation of living wills and DNR orders.
A 2011 study by MetLife has estimated that the annual financial loss of seniors due to fraud is nearly three billion dollars. This type of fraud can be devastating not only to the individual stolen from, but to their entire family. The elderly are vulnerable to a variety of scams, including Medicare scams, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral scams, fake telemarketing, investment schemes, and mortgage scams. Worst still, in the age of the Internet, the elderly are at higher risk of falling prey to Internet fraud due to slower adoption of the associated technologies.
Often times, these scams go unreported and can be difficult to prosecute. Many of them are difficult to resolve simply because of the relative isolation that many elderly people face. Furthermore, elderly people are less likely report frauds because they don’t know who they should report to, they’re ashamed of having been scammed, or are unaware that they had even been a victim.
Social workers can help solve these problems by acting as advocates for the elderly. As one of the first lines of defense against elder abuse, they can help protect your loved ones from those who might try to take advantage of their vulnerability. Social workers are also one of the first lines of defense against elder abuse, and are required by law to report suspected abuse.
Making Families Stronger
There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help when you need it. With the aid of geriatric social workers and their professional caregiver counterparts, older adults have the opportunity to remain in their own home longer, enjoying significantly safer lives. For any family providing care for an elderly family member, consulting with a social worker can make social services and elderly parents a much easier match to make.
Have you or your family had any experiences in working with a geriatric social worker? How were they able to help you or your loved one with finding resources or handling a delicate matter? Let us know in the comments below!