For the year 2020, the theme of National Social Workers Month is ‘Social Workers – Generations Strong’, and that means the month of March will be one in which the spotlight is squarely focused on the tremendous contributions made to society by the thousands of skilled and dedicated social workers in this country. In Tupelo and elsewhere in the U.S., people will be taking time to recognize the great work and the valuable service provided by these individuals in the execution of their profession. Senior home care is one very definite beneficiary of all that great work, with many seniors receiving the direct benefits of the labors of this country’s social workers. Here are some of the ways that social workers have a major impact on the lives of the elderly.
Explain government programs
One of the things that many geriatric social workers are involved with is helping seniors understand government programs which can be very complicated, and they also help to make seniors aware of some programs which they may be eligible for. Some of these programs may be extremely valuable to seniors, for instance, social services, healthcare providers, local community programs, and legal entities.
Social workers often become involved with helping seniors apply for some of these programs, and they also may become involved when it’s necessary to resolve issues that arise regarding eligibility and actually obtaining services. They can also guide seniors to apply for very useful local services such as transportation, in-home assistance, and possibly even food delivery.
Some geriatric social workers are qualified to provide counseling services which can help elderly persons cope with some of the issues that always come up regarding end-of-life. There are generally a great many details that need to be managed in such situations, and skilled social workers can bring these up and help a senior person account for all of them.
In situations where a senior may be undergoing diminishing health and may require constant supervision, a social worker can help with the transition to a long-term care facility. This can sometimes be a very traumatic situation for an elderly person, and social workers can help ease the way and make it less uncomfortable. Some social workers will also become involved with helping seniors prepare a last will and testament, and may also help them prepare DNR orders, in the event that they become necessary.
Some social workers will also become involved as advocates for the elderly if they should become involved with scams or fraudulent attempts to deprive them of their assets. A 2011 study by MetLife concluded that seniors lost an annual amount close to $3 billion due to fraud and scams. The elderly are much more susceptible to scams, especially counterfeit prescription dogs, fake telemarketing, mortgage scams, investment schemes, and even Medicare scams.
Many seniors have also been victimized by Internet fraud because they are not familiar with online tactics and strategies of the criminal-minded. Most of the time, these crimes go unreported by seniors, either because they’re ashamed at having been tricked, or because they simply don’t know who to report the crime to. Sometimes, they never even become aware that they’ve been victimized. In all these cases, social workers can act as advocates for the elderly and help them avoid such scams in the future, and report the ones which have recently occurred.
Many geriatric social workers become heavily involved with elderly persons, as well as professional caregivers who help to manage their lives. With this kind of aid being given, it often allows senior citizens to remain in their home for a much longer time, and spend their golden years with family members. Any family which has an elderly member will have a much easier time caring for that person when they have a social worker who can intervene on their behalf with all the social services which might be valuable for a senior.
Connecting with community resources
Another really important service provided by some social workers is to help connect senior citizens with community resources which they may be in need of. For instance, a senior who has suffered through a recent accident will often need rehabilitation or therapy sessions in order to recover, and a social worker can help make that connection for the senior. A number of seniors also suffer from kidney disease and social workers can help them find the closest dialysis center so that they can maintain their health.
If it becomes necessary to arrange for alternate housing for any reason, a social worker can also provide a big boost in making this happen. Social workers are generally aware of nearby assisted living facilities as well as memory care communities, and they can direct elderly persons to these facilities. In some cases, the social worker will even work with the clinical team in order to develop a customized plan of treatment for the senior, because they have such a close personal knowledge of the patient.