How Social Workers Help Connect Older Adults with Community Resources

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 5, 2018
How Social Workers Help Connect Older Adults with Community Resources
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Social workers are unsung heroes of senior care. They connect older adults with community resources that help them to safely maintain their best quality of life. Whether a senior needs medical, emotional, spiritual, or physical support, a social worker can often be found acting as a bridge between the older adult and the providers who can help.

Social workers are unsung heroes of senior care. They connect older adults with community resources that help them to safely maintain their best quality of life. Whether a senior needs medical, emotional, spiritual, or physical support, a social worker can often be found acting as a bridge between the older adult and the providers who can help.

March is National Social Work Month, a time to pause and recognize the work of this dedicated group of professionals.

How Social Workers Help Seniors

Where can you find social workers assisting older adults and their family caregivers? Let’s take a look.

  • Agency on aging: In almost every city or county across the country, you will find an agency on aging. Local experts can typically help area residents with everything from Meals on Wheels program enrollment to transportation services to Medicare and Medicaid applications. Visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to find an agency near you.
  • Local hospital: While hospitals use a variety of different titles for their social work teams, most spend a considerable amount of time assisting older adults. When a senior is hospitalized, a social worker can arrange for a short-term rehab stay after discharge, order medical supplies needed when they return often, line up home healthcare services, or help the family begin the search for an assisted living community. They also may provide emotional support to families who are struggling with a senior loved one’s declining health.
  • Rehabilitation centers: When an older adult completes their recovery at a short-term rehab center, they often need a little extra help after they transition home. Social workers assist by arranging home safety evaluations, home modifications (e.g., ramps, raised toilet, grab bars), mobile meals, and more. These professionals can also help families explore senior housing options if it isn’t feasible for their older loved one to return home.
  • Hospice organizations: Hospice social workers work as part of or in conjunction with bereavement teams. Their responsibilities can vary greatly, but they often involve assessing a patient and their family’s needs and helping create a care plan to meet them.
  • Dialysis centers: Kidney disease can impact people of all ages, but older adults make up a significant portion of the population receiving dialysis. Because this disease can impact all areas of a person’s life, the support of a social worker is often necessary. They can help patients arrange for transportation to and from the dialysis center, complete Medicare and insurance claims related to their treatment, and find services to manage life’s daily tasks.
  • Senior housing: You will also find social workers in a variety of senior housing settings, including assisted living and memory care communities. They work with the clinical team to develop individualized care plans for each resident, communicate changes with family members, and much more.

Interested in Volunteering with Seniors?

If you enjoy spending time with seniors but aren’t a social worker, we have other ways you can contribute. We’d love to have you share your time and talent with our residents by volunteering! Call the community nearest you to learn more about Sunrise volunteer opportunities