Elderly Care And Social Work
By 2030, the projected population of Americans age 65 and older will be 72 million — more than twice the 2000 population of 35 million aging Americans. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, this projection will only increase as Baby Boomers get older. As this population continues to age, the demand for geriatric social workers will also grow. Geriatric social workers provide aging adults with the care and support they need to maintain their independence. They also help families navigate the sometimes overwhelming world of health and social services, which can involve finding housing and home care assistance; handling tasks associated with medical issues, such as securing appointments and following up with doctors; and working through Medicaid and Social Security processes. Geriatric social workers interact regularly with a variety of people, from older adults and their loved ones to doctors and members of government. In order to be effective advocates, they must possess exceptional communication skills and have advanced knowledge of the community programs and local resources available to help improve the quality of life for the aging population. Although geriatric social workers commonly work in nursing homes, their services and expertise are often needed in a variety of settings, including community centers, educational institutions, public policy departments, research organizations, and veteran centers. The educational background of geriatric social workers is equally diverse. While a Masters degree in Social Work isn't necessary to enter this field, most undergraduate programs do not offer the comprehensive coursework that focuses exclusively on the unique aspects of this specialized field. Graduate programs in geriatric social work and gerontology often provide aspiring geriatric social workers with the advanced skills and knowledge that today’s employers are seeking. By earning a master’s degree, geriatric social workers can expand their opportunities in a field that continues to grow in demand.