Geriatric social workers play an integral role in today’s aging population, connecting seniors with essential services that allow them to lead healthy and happy lives. Unfortunately, despite significant growth in this field, many social workers remain reluctant to work with older clients. Detailed below are four reasons why a social work degree is worth pursuing.
High Demand for Geriatric Social Workers
Between rises in life expectancy and lower birthrates, Americans can expect a rapidly-aging population in years to come. The United States Census predicts that over 20 percent of the population will be over the age of 65 by 2030, compared to just 13 percent of the population in 2010. As Baby Boomers age, they will need more support from specialized social workers, who understand the unique needs of today’s senior population. The National Association of Social Workers expects that as many as 70,000 geriatric social workers will be needed to meet this growing demand.
Geriatric Clients Impart Wisdom and a Sense of Perspective
Social workers who work closely with geriatric clients often learn valuable lessons from their patients. Their geriatric clients have seen and accomplished amazing things — and they are eager to share their stories while they still can. These clients also continue to experience “A-Ha” moments of inspiration; social worker Denise Goodrich Liley reports that witnessing these moments is one of the most gratifying aspects of ther job.
Giving Back Where Help is Needed Most
One of the main reasons people enter social work is a desire to make a difference. Although it is possible to accomplish this goal in several areas of social work, geriatric clients are unique in that the senior population is arguably most in need of advocacy. This notoriously disenfranchised group can thrive with the right support services, including many of those first proposed in the Older Americans Act of 1965. Social workers ensure that their senior clients receive meal assistance, legal services, transportation, and more. Additionally, they advocate for disabled seniors, who require even more support.
Because geriatric social workers are able to have an immediate impact on the lives of the seniors they serve, many in the field report high job satisfaction. These social workers work directly with some of the nation’s most fascinating individuals. Their clients are often quick to express gratitude, making social workers feel as if they have made a real difference. High job satisfaction also stems from safe working conditions, flexible scheduling, and access to education and training opportunities.
If your goal is to deliver hope to an underserved community, you could be the perfect candidate for a career in geriatric social work. As a geriatric social worker, you will provide hope and compassion to those who need it most, all while enjoying the wit and wisdom of kindhearted, thankful, and fascinating clients.