March 2017 marks the celebration of National Social Workers Month. This year’s theme is “Social Workers Stand Up” in honor of the over one half million social workers who provide services across the country. The idea behind this campaign, on behalf of the National Association of Social Workers, is that social workers stand up daily to serve millions of people who experience overwhelming illness and/or mental health emergencies. Fortunately, social workers with geriatric training consist of a significant percentage of the total number of social workers in the United States. This is good news for society since our older population of Americans above age 65 will outnumber the younger population by the year 2030.
Social workers offer a wide range of services to the population as a whole, but are especially important for the elderly because of their skills in assessment, treatment and prevention for psychological, behavioral, emotional, social and environmental problems. Social workers play a key role in any patient’s treatment team because they are the mental health professionals who advocate on behalf of their patients and their ability to live as independently as possible.
Social workers are instrumental to the health and longevity of our aging population. Their goal for our patients is the same as ours in that they want to encourage independence as much as possible. Depending on the circumstances, this can include implementing key strategies so that an older person can continue to live alone or coordinating assistance so that he or she has daily check points with outsiders. Additionally, social workers encourage older people to maintain as much freedom as possible, and as always, work diligently to preserve others’ dignity in each situation that they support.
Stand Up for Social Workers this month and on World Social Work Day on March 21! They will always stand up to support our elderly population.