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Geriatric Social Workers

History

Social workers were often the villains of old movies. They were often portrayed as either stiff, unemotional women carrying briefcases and wearing long dark skirts, or as thin, bald men with beady eyes behind thick glasses. With little emotion, they dragged children off to orphanages, committed sane people to insane asylums, and threatened the poor and elderly. The goal of the social worker seemed to be to uphold social norms by breaking up unconventional families. This may reflect a moral superiority that tainted social work up until the early 20th century. Today, the social services industry is responsible for empowering individuals (such as the poor, elderly, and ill) and helping them to face personal problems and address large social issues.

Theories and methodologies of social work have changed over the years, but the basis of the profession has remained the same: helping people address hardships such as poverty, illness, drug addictions, and aging. As society changes, so do its problems, calling for redefinition of the social work profession. The U.S. population is getting older. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 43.1 million people age 65 and older in 2012. This number is expected to increase to more than 72.7 million by 2030. Changing demographics have created a need for experienced professionals in geriatrics. Geriatric social workers help older individuals and their families to cope with the difficulties encountered in aging, such as maintaining mental and physical health and combating feelings of depression or fears of dying.

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