Evolving Standards of Elder Care

According to the National Center for Gerontological Social Work Education, one in six Americans are projected to be age 65 and older by 2020. The most dramatic growth in this population group will be among persons over age 85, elders of color, and women. The knowledge and compassion of social workers is going to be critical in helping our society age successfully with a dignified quality of life.

At the Heart of the Profession

The role of a social worker is to assist others who find themselves in adverse situations. For some people, aging can present challenges that are hard to overcome. Having access to a well-credentialed social worker with an MSW degree can make a life-changing difference for the elderly and their families. There is great confidence that comes with trusting that there is someone who can advocate for seniors’ rights, arrange community resources, safeguard health concerns, and be available in times of crisis.


Advocating for seniors’ rights can take many forms, including political activism. However, for most social workers this means ensuring that their clients are not being abused or taken advantage of in any way. Knowing what to look for – changes in mood, physical injury, incidents of theft, or other signs of neglect – is essential to serving elders.

Community Resources

For many seniors, quality of life declines considerably once they give up their driving privileges. A social worker’s ability to arrange transportation alternatives, access to social activities, and/or in-home companionship can go a long way in improving the day-to-day lives of their clients. This sort of community support also helps to relieve a burden from family members who are trying to juggle elder care, work, and other obligations.

Health and Safety

The longer people live, the more susceptible they become to healthcare concerns and safety hazards. Loss of balance, vision, and hearing are natural declines that present constant dangers. Improper medication management adds another peril, as illnesses, conditions, and prescriptions add up over time. Increasing incidences of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are also very real concerns plaguing our graying society.

Growing older does not have to be a negative experience, especially if seniors have the guidance of a qualified social worker to call upon as needed. Dedicating your future to elder care can pay back in many ways – through intrinsic rewards and tangible opportunities to grow and advance your career. Take the next step towards helping the aging populations in your community by earning your Masters in Social Work Online degree.

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