Human Services Guide

Geriatric Social Worker Education

The geriatric social worker is a sub-sector of social work that specializes in working with elderly populations. The geriatric social worker helps the elderly minimize the negative impacts of aging and works to increase the quality of life for their clients. By helping the elderly cope with the changes of aging the geriatric social worker helps their clients to live richer fuller lives.

The geriatric social worker begins their relationship with the client by establishing rapport and making an assessment of the needs and health of the client. The social worker then connects the client with appropriate services such as transportation, home health aides, or meal services. These measures can help the elderly person to live at home for much longer than might otherwise be possible and avoid being placed in a nursing home.

The geriatric social worker might also assist their elderly client in expanding their social network by arranging social activities for senior citizens. This can be part of an overall plan to increase the mental health and well-being of their clients. This can also extend to helping the client to navigate the various public and private services for the elderly. From helping to apply for services to acting as a liaison between the service provider and advocate for the client, the geriatric social worker assists the client in working with the myriad agencies designed to assist the aging.

* Request information about the CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work degree from USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. GRE not required. USC enrollment without relocating Contact USC here to learn more.

* Simmons College School of Social Work is an advanced program that offers a CSWE-accredited Online Master of Social Work program. There is no GRE required. Request Socialwork@Simmons information here.

* Capella University offers an online Master of Social Work in CSWE candidacy status. The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role (in most states). Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work and a Bachelors in Psychology. Contact Capella University Here.

How this Job Services Human Beings

The geriatric social worker helps to make the burden of the effects of aging greatly reduced for their clients. This takes myriad forms which can include responsibilities such as:

  • Arranging social activities and gatherings for the elderly
  • Advocating on behalf of their client when dealing with public agencies
  • Helping the client to live a self-sufficient life within their capabilities
  • Establishing strong rapport and personal relationship with their client
  • Accurately assessing the emotional and physical needs of their client

Impact on Society

The impact of the geriatric social worker on society is that they make aging a far less daunting and difficult process. By empowering the elderly they help people to live long active and full lives. This helps society by keeping our elders connected to society where they can impart their wisdom and unique outlook on life. While subtle, the impact on society is very important and helps to maintain the fabric of community across the generations.

Impact on the Family

The process of aging can be very difficult for both the elderly and their family. Many senior citizens greatly fear becoming a burden for their families and also losing self-sufficiency. Most families are also concerned with the well-being of their elders and while busy themselves want the best for their senior family members. The geriatric social worker helps the family by taking on the role of advocate for the elder. With accurate assessments of health and capabilities the geriatric social worker can help the family by keeping their elders self-sufficient and living a full life. By working to keep the elder out of nursing home care, the social worker benefits the family tremendously. This can help the family immensely on both the financial and emotional levels.

Impact on the Individual

The prospect of aging and losing one’s self-sufficiency is a frightening prospect for many elders. Many seniors also are terribly afraid of becoming a burden on their families. With the help of the geriatric social worker, the senior becomes empowered to live a full and self-sufficient life. From increased socializing, to help applying for government benefits, to being connected with a home health aide, the senior reaps tremendous benefits from the work of the geriatric social worker. For many seniors, with the help of their social worker, they may feel a second lease on life.

Education to Join the Workforce

For most positions, an employer will require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in gerontology. Increasingly, employers are looking for candidates that have attained a master’s degree in gerontology.

Range of Salaries for this Job

On a nationwide basis the annual mean wage for a geriatric social worker is: $40,7401

What’s Next to Pursue this Career?

Most employers will be looking for candidates who have a minimum of a Bachelors of Science in Gerontology. Increasingly, employers want candidates who have a Master of Science in Gerontology. You can find schools in your area that have degree programs in this area by clicking here. Now is the time to take the first step on your journey towards becoming a Geriatric Social Worker!

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MSW@USC
University of Southern California