Older Adults

Gerontology social work is one of the fastest growing social work occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the social work profession is expecting a 16 percent growth rate through 2026. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, much of that growth (20 percent) is expected to be within health care-related fields.

For adults facing loss of autonomy and dignity, social workers can be the difference between living in isolation and maintaining a good quality of life. Geriatric social workers play a prominent role in supporting America’s aging population, linking older adults to the services they need to remain independent.

The Older Adults program option will prepare you to:

  • Explore the major bio-psycho-social theories used to explain the aging process.
  • Assist older adults in understanding the effects of ageism.
  • Examine aging experiences for older adults across diverse cultural, ethnic and class backgrounds to introduce culturally appropriate practice.
  • Discuss with families and caregivers the responsibilities of caring for older adults and the support resources and networks available.
  • Understand the major policies and programs affecting the American health care system.
  • Ask relevant questions and examine evidence to determine appropriate practice models.

Geriatric social workers trained in the Older Adults program option work in a range of settings, such as:

  • Geriatric health and mental health centers
  • Residential treatment homes
  • Hospitals
  • Health centers
  • Retirement communities

Program Option Requirements

As a student in the Older Adults program option, which can be added by students in the Department of Adults and Healthy Aging, you will complete the following courses:

  • Clinical Practice With Older Adults
  • Social Work Practice With Older Adults

Scholarship Opportunity

Students in the Older Adults program option may apply for a stipend from the Geriatric Social Work Education Consortium (GSWEC).

GSWEC, the nation’s first major multi-university regional consortium in partnership with leading agencies serving seniors, offers an integrated field and academic graduate social work education experience for students interested in the field of aging. GSWEC aims to strengthen geriatric social work education, increase social workers’ competency in the area of aging and expose students to an emerging, high-growth field within social work. If students meet the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement and select the Department of Adults and Healthy Aging, they can apply to GSWEC by completing a brief application, attending an orientation and participating in a competitive interview process. (Enrolling in the Older Adult program option is highly recommended but not a requirement.) If accepted, students receive a $4,000 stipend with no specific work commitment required. For more information, email Debbie Winters or call 213-740-0284.