Role of Social Workers in Promoting Psychosocial Health of Older Adults

Advances in medical technology have increased life expectancy rates for people around the world. Consequently, there has been a rise in the population of older of older adults and new concerns regarding the psychosocial wellbeing of the vulnerable subpopulation. Social workers play a pivotal role in ameliorating psychological distress among the elderly through individual, familial, community and international interventions.

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Individual therapy involves working with older adults directly to improving psychosocial wellbeing. This area could benefit from policy changes that seek to transform service provision from basic care to professional care. Older adults should also be empowered to manage their health outcomes by fostering problem solving capabilities. Social work should also involve the implementation of preventive measures against the development of mental disorders rather than developing interventions for treating ailments.

At the family level, social workers should encourage older adults to take initiatives to develop social support structures when relatives appear not to be forthcoming. Furthermore, social workers should promote the ability of the older adult to engage with their grandchildren by developing their communication skills. For older adults who lack significant familial ties, efforts need to be geared towards developing relationships with peers, neighbors and long standing acquaintances.

At the community level, the social worker should take up a leading role in advocating for the needs of the elderly population. This advocacy should aim to validate the position of older adults as valuable members of the society who deserve respect and appreciation from the younger generation.  Social workers could also engage in psychosocial health promotion activities aimed at popularizing regular health checks and the adoption of healthy lifestyles among the elderly.

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At the international level, social workers need to facilitate the sharing of information databases relevant to gerontological social work practice to make the world a more elder friendly place. Social, workers should also aim to promote international collaboration to facilitate the spread of best practices and eradicate the use of harmful interventions. Finally, the social worker should solicit financial assistance for older adults in developing countries through forums such as international conferences, workshops and field visits.

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