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Social Work and Aging

Social Work and Aging is an upper division elective course for social work majors.  This course addresses the social aspects of aging, including the changing role definitions of the elderly, the special problems of growing old in the U.S. society, and services to the elderly.  The course includes information regarding social welfare policies, economic justice, cultural aspects of aging, and values and ethics of social work services to the elderly.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course students will gain:


  • The student will demonstrate a beginning understanding of the field of social gerontology and generalist practice social work in aging.
  • The student will learn the history of social work and content of current structures of social welfare services, particularly as it relates to the Social Security Act, Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act.
  • The student will identify populations at risk within the aging cohort including those with chronic physical and mental disability, cognitive loss and the economically disadvantaged.
  • The student will become aware of cultural diversity in the aging process and attitudes that affect accepting help.


  • The student will demonstrate knowledge of the person-environment perspective and the interaction among biological, sociological, cultural, psychological and spiritual development across the life span.
  • The student will be able to apply wellness and prevention strategies and identify social services to empower older adults and their families.
  • The student will be able to intervene with systems of all sizes on behalf of older adults, particularly care giving systems and kinship care.
  • The student will be able to conduct a variety of interventions including psychosocial assessments, group work and advocacy to help older adults live as independently as possible.


  • The student will begin to value the contributions of older Americans in our society.
  • The student will clarify personal values as they relate to aging, death and dying, sexuality and productivity.
  • The student will be exposed to ethical dilemmas regarding the right to self-determination, the least restrictive environment and end of life issues.
  • The student will gain an appreciation of the complex nature of culture and personal identity as it applies to variations in the aging process (gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and economic status)
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