SWK4180EN - Social Work Practice with Older Adults

Course description

This course looks at the unique aspects of social work practice pertaining to older adults and their families. Older adults face challenges in the later years that do not present at earlier ages, or present and need attended to in different ways than for younger adults or children. This course focuses on direct practice with older adults and their families. The course examines the social context of aging, the aging process, associated changes, and the effects on older persons and their families. Emphasis is on the nature of support systems and the social work role in maintaining and enhancing functioning and well being. The role of caregivers when elders are limited in their capacity to function independently is examined.

How this course benefits students

Students who are middle age or younger often have not been exposed to older people in the context of their lives, but rather sound bites and snippets. In a season that is often seen as one of many losses, it is important to understand ongoing and emerging strengths of the individual in terms of function, well-being and quality of life.

Why this course is important

The population is aging all around the world. It behooves each of us to have an understanding of older adults, their families and the services available or not available in order to promote the highest level of independence and quality of life.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Social Work
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.
Dr. Debra Newell, Distinguished Professor of Gerontology

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

Sensitivity on each of these levels is key to caring for elders from a biblical standpoint as well in that we are to respect our elders and honor them, regardless of the country, culture.

Missionally driven

If one is called to focus on older adults in missions and outreach, this course is particularly relevant. In that the world’s elderly population is growing quickly in almost all countries supports mission, practical, intercultural aspects of the core values.

Contextually informed

There is no one size fits all, therefore it is important to understand health, illness and quality of life in the context of the elder’s current situation, as well as their history and what is important to them and their families.

Interculturally focused

No matter the culture, country, or language, there are concepts of caring for older individuals that apply.

Practically minded

Understanding the resources that enhance maintenance of the individual in the community, how they are navigated, how they are received and perceived by older persons and their families is key to knowing what, when, where and how to facilitate and orchestrate supports for the individual and their family.

Experientially transformed

Through case studies and practicums, students experience the social work role among the elderly.