What is Gero Social Work?

what-is-gero-social-workIf you are considering a career in social work, you know there are several types, and you may have wondered, “What is Gero Social Work?” Gero is short for gerontology, of the study of aging. A gero, or geriatric social worker, is one who works with people who are aging and with their families, to achieve and maintain the highest quality of life possible for their clients.

Why is this a Good Branch of Social Work to Enter?

According to The CSWE.org website, the population segment of those over 65 is growing steadily. As a matter of fact, by 2020, one in six Americans is projected to be over 65. The fastest growing segments of elderly are those over 85, elderly of color and women. This signifies a need for more specialists in the field of aging.

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The “Boomer” population is working longer than their parents, and is more active than they were at this age. In addition, they are often caregivers for their parents or of other elderly loved ones. Twenty per cent of American adults are caregivers and, of that number, most are 65 or older themselves. That means that physical and mental issues for the caregivers affect other elderly as well. In short, this is a good field to go into because there is a need for workers.

What do Gero Social Workers Do?

Geriatric social workers work with the elderly in facilities and in 55+ communities, as well as with clients who are aging at home. They sometimes work with places of employment to help employers make accommodations for older workers and to help the workers stay healthy enough to remain employed if they want to. This entails knowing the laws concerning age discrimination in the workplace. Gero social workers assist families to adjust to their loved ones’ changing abilities and mental health. In hospitals, they can assist clients in obtaining resources to allow them to go home, or to deal with a debilitating illness. Clients who remain at home but who need assistance require social workers who understand how people age normally and who can assess changes in functioning levels, then react appropriately. Gero social workers also sometimes do counseling with the elderly clients and with their families. They are often employed by hospice organizations to deal with end-of-life issues. Gero Social Work involves the ability to assess issues that adversely affect their clients and to “plug then into” the appropriate resources.

What Kind of Education Do You Need?

According to “Healthworks Collective.com,” these professionals usually have a graduate degree in geriatric social work. Of course, there are generalists who work with the elderly, and the Gerontological Society of America has come up with some standards for proficiencies needed in this field. Social workers with undergraduate degrees can meet these standards as well, to ensure competency in their jobs. Licensure for geriatric social workers is the same as for other social work professionals and generally involves an advanced degree and supervised experience.

The number of people who are over 65 increases daily, and our understanding of how to maintain their physical well-being increases as well. Addressing the needs of healthy as well as inform elderly is a team effort involving many professionals. Gero Social Work can easily be the coordinating entity that allows them to operate efficiently.

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