• Supporting Clients

    Posted on November 8th, 2008

    Written by Jaimie


    The Older Adult Client

    Who is the older adult client? This is a concept I easily misunderstood. A couple of years ago, I would have answered; “The older adult client is the individual identified as the person usually 60 + in age whom requires assistance with issues associated with aging.” Now, I know the older adult client is not only one individual it includes much more. They are the family, the friends, the neighbors, and all others who are active within the life of the older adult. While working with an individual you also work with his/her family, the close friends, and the community as a whole. To some this concept sounds awfully standard; the overused micro, mezzo, and macro system terminology applied in Systems Theory. Instead of calling it what it is, it’s time to define an approach more description, and appropriate for the day-in and day-out work of the social worker.

    The family, I will argue, is the most complex aspect of the older adult client. The family comes with a history of dynamics that has taken years to develop, and will take just as many years to completely understand. The family is very frequently in the front lines of the aging process. The family sees and feels the affects of their loved one’s aging, either through illness, grandparenthood, finances, wisdom, etc. The only preparation the family has had is what they may have seen with the older generations of the family. But each family is different due to the varying and ever changing;  social, emotional, religious, political, and relational dynamics.

    As the world changes so too does the aging process. Lives last longer as healthcare advances. Internationally and domestically norms are redefined. Some groups are more excepted while others are still disenfranchised. The economy continues to flux and nothing will ever look like it did yesterday. These qualities allow for little to no preparation for the family, whose responsibility is to the well being of parents, aunts/uncles, and grandparents. People, who at one time, were viewed to be very capable to perform as societies standards are now viewed as ineffectual.

    When I began writing this entry I intended to touch on the difficulty many adult children face when they are required to step-in for their parents. But, instead I have spoken in a more broad sense of the ever changing world, and the idea that the individual is only a one piece of a very large pie. Also, I have challenged theorists to approach clinical work with older adults through a more definitive, descriptive, and user friendly approach. Older adult issues and specific interaction with family and community are reasonably different from other age groups. As such, I hope that Geriatric social workers and other professionals understand and account for such differences.

    Picture courtesy of Zsuzsanna Schreck. View more of her photos at Rocketcat.blogspot

    This entry was posted on Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at 5:03 pm and is filed under Supporting Clients. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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