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How Social Workers Help You and Your Elderly Loved One

This past year has been challenging for so many of us, but it wouldn’t have been possible for any of us to make it through without our essential workers. This month, we’re honoring social workers, who have been on the front lines both in hospitals and in homes. Social workers help people across a variety of disciplines, including age-related challenges.

Social workers can play a critical role in home healthcare, helping people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. When it comes to aging, social workers can help manage medications, assist with activities of daily living, and identify resources that might benefit your loved one.

Geriatric Social Workers: Helping the Elderly

Geriatric social workers are essential when it comes to navigating the often-complicated world of aging. Seniors and their family caregivers have a range of both local and national resources to consider, and aren’t always equipped to make the most informed decisions. In this regard, geriatric social workers can help aging patients in the following ways:

  • A geriatric social worker can help you or your loved one put plans in place for a transition back home after a hospital stay (including transportation or in-home care) in order to make a successful recovery.
  • One of the most challenging aspects of senior care can be the siloed communication channels between patients, healthcare providers and family caregivers. A geriatric social worker can break down these barriers of communication to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, some are well equipped to handle communications with insurance companies and various programs you or your loved one might be entitled to.
  • Resource Support. Social workers are a wealth of information when it comes to aging care services. From identifying local programs and resources you or your loved one can take advantage of, to offering expert input on difficult subjects like end-of-life care, geriatric social workers can tap into a wider network to help identify which services would help improve the overall quality of life of a senior citizen.

When to Bring In a Social Worker

A variety of specialists work with seniors, so it can sometimes be hard to know when it’s appropriate to talk to a social worker. Of course, every situation is unique, however, you can generally determine if a geriatric social worker is the right specialist for your situation if you can answer yes to the following questions:

1. Have the needs and responsibilities of caring for your loved one become too much for you to handle?

2. Are you struggling to understand which free or affordable resources and programs your loved one might qualify for?

3. Are you confused or overwhelmed thinking about how to make a plan for the progression of your loved one’s chronic illness?

4. Do you need help navigating end-of-life scenarios?

5. Is your family struggling with the emotional and practical effects of a recent diagnosis of an illness in an elderly loved one?

6. Do you or your loved one need help figuring out if you need more regular support at home?

7. If your older loved one is preparing to return home after a hospital stay, do they need help coordinating care needs?

If you can answer any of the above questions affirmatively, you will most likely benefit from talking to a geriatric social worker. At the very least, they can use their knowledge and expertise to point you in the right direction, whether it’s information for local resources in your neighborhood or the name of a specialist who might better suit your needs. After all, they have proven themselves to be essential workers—through the pandemic, and beyond.

Hilary Young Author

Hilary Young is a writer dedicated to helping older Americans live healthier, more fulfilling lives. You can find her on Twitter as @hyoungcreative.

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