Gerontological Social Work

Introductory Guide to Gerontological Social Work
By Kaitlin Louie
Gerontological social workers, also known as geriatric social workers, coordinate the care of elderly patients in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, community health clinics, long-term and residential health care facilities, hospice settings, and outpatient/daytime health care centers. In outpatient settings, gerontological social workers serve as advocates for elderly individuals, helping to ensure they receive the mental, emotional, social, and familial support they need, while also connecting them to resources in the community that can provide additional support. In inpatient and residential care settings, gerontological social workers conduct intake assessments to determine patients’ mental, emotional, and social needs; collaborate with a larger team of physicians, nurses, psychologists, case managers, and other health care staff to develop and regularly update patient treatment plans; discuss treatment plan options with patients and their families; and manage patient discharges.
Elderly individuals can grapple with isolation, depression, financial instability, dementia, anxiety, and other psychological, emotional, and social challenges. They may also experience declining health and increased reliance on medical care and family support, and this shift in independence can prove difficult for both them and their families. Gerontological social workers help their clients manage these and other challenges by providing counseling and therapy, advising clients’ families about how to best support aging loved ones, serving as the bridge of communication between clients and the rest of the care team, and ensuring that clients receive the services they need if or when they move between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, in-home care, day treatment programs, etc.

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Compiler: Fateme Mohammady
Published on the specialized media of Iranians social work

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