Social work in the context of taking care of the elderly in society is a very critical matter in the 21st-century life. The elderly in this century have a challenge of managing themselves in their old age as they are victims of different forms of abuse by their entrusted care takers. In many situations across different continents, the elderly have been victims of sexual abuse, financial abuse, and physical abuse. The elderly in society have been neglected by their care givers and have been left off to fend for themselves. The principles of social work state the need to maintain ethical awareness in a bid to maintain professionalism in the care of elderly. Social work in relationship to the care of the elderly comes within the context of taking care of the elderly in homes of the old. In the case a social worker does not respect the elderly at work, he or she may end up exploiting the trust of the elderly. Exploitation in many cases comes through financial abuse through the illegal, unauthorized transfer of savings from the victims bank account, stealing of an elderlys pension payment and other forms of fraud (Mallinson & McLean, 2000). It is important to educate people who are moving towards old age to learn to apply the theories of gerontology in order to secure their old age and have a peaceful transition into their final days.
Concepts and Theories of Gerontology
The study of gerontology puts its focus on studying the social, cognitive, psychological and biological process that occur as ageing comes in. This field of study takes different types of specialists like doctors, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and pharmacists just but to mention a few. It is important to consider that all these groups of individual combined can help give a general overview of gerontology as an area of study.
Gerontology encompasses the study of the physical, mental and the social adaptation of people when they reach a certain age bracket. It focusses on understanding the core factors that influence the social and the psycho-social behaviors of individuals at a certain age. Social workers form a big part of the individuals who handle the elderly. They are care givers, nurses, physiotherapists aides and cleaners. These individuals interact with the elderly mostly in homes of the old, they have to uphold high standards of care when it comes to what they do with the information they receive from their patients (Janssen, Snoeren, Van Regenmortel, & Abma, 2015). It is highly important that these individuals uphold high levels of discretion when it comes to patient history and financial records.
Gerontology looks at the concept of old age in four stessps, that is; chronological, biological, psychological and biological. These steps indicate the process a human being goes through while undergoing old age. Geriatric social work is the social work practice that involves taking care of the elderly in society. This individuals are of age from 60 to 65 year old. The social workers provide counseling, care, community planning and agency as a service in ensuring the elderly have access to special medication, protection, and his/her amenities are catered for. These individual are highly important in the lives of the elderly in their final day (Chihowski & Hughes, 2008).
Theories of Ageing
The ageing process is one critical stage where an individual is impacted directly by the environment around them as they impact their environment. In any case understanding ageing has been divided into several theoretical concepts that can be adopted by individuals;
Disengagement Theory- This conceptual theory was developed by Cumming, the theory states that the environment and older individuals engage in a mutually separate manner. Upon growing old, one has to retire from office or work for that matter. This theory assumes that when old age sets in, old men become more self-absorbed, and ego-competition becomes meaningless. The key assumption is that older people start disengaging themselves from the workplace and associating with the younger generation. This concept states that older people tend to feel much more fulfilled with their lives as they do not seem to be competing with the younger folks. It involves gradual disengagement from society and relationships; this gives them social freedom and a moment of self-reflection. It allows for the transition of power, control, capital and knowledge to the younger generation (Biehal, 2013). Many social workers have discounted this theory as there is a lot of evidence showing that most adults prefer to withdraw themselves from the active life and social relationships. It is important to understand that this theory is contrary to what other older people believe in, many older people believe that remaining active in their interactions with the younger generation helps them to maintain relevance in society, and it helps them feel young and quite contributive to society.
Life Course Theory- Bengston and Allen in 1993 developed the Life course theory; the perspective is that ageing occurs from the time of birth to the day of death. Ageing takes the social, biological and the psychological phases. The ageing experiences of people is usually influenced by cohorts and periodic effects in life. The theory states that ageing comes in different shades, people experience different ageing processes depending on the external factors affecting their lives, in different eras, ageing was experienced in a totally different way as opposed to ageing in the 21st century. In every generation ageing is experienced in a totally different way as opposed to the previous or the next. It is important to understand that this theory does not give any sequential process by which individuals actually age (Chihowski & Hughes, 2008). Social workers in different generations offer different levels of services or different service paradigms that are unique to any given generation, lifestyles, social norms and income levels.
The emancipatory theory is based on the efforts made by various people and institutions to acquire economic, political and social rights for a particular group that has always been discriminated. The theory also entails the discussion of any matters that will ensure that a particular group that has not always been receiving their legal rights get to know their rights. The theory of emancipation emerges from the phrase that states that detach from the hand. The phrase means that the groups that have always faced discrimination should be able to know their rights and enjoy them. Various scholars have discussed the emancipatory theory (Wilson, Tilse, Setterlund, & Rosenman, 2009). For instance, Karl Marx highlighted the political emancipation in his essay that he wrote in 1833.
About the emancipatory theory, the society should ensure that some groups that have never been empowered for a long time are empowered. In a significant number of communities, the older people are not empowered and given the chance to take part in economic development projects. The older people are usually seen as people that cannot contribute to the social, economic and political development of the society (CLARKE & WARREN, 2007). Therefore, the theory of emancipation points out that the older people should be empowered and given the necessary facilitation and motivation to develop themselves.
Principles of Social Work
A social worker for instance one has the responsibility of taking great care of the elderly in society. Be it that one works in the home of the old or directly at the residence of the elderly individuals, it is paramount that one respects the principles of social work in order to maintain a perfect working relationship with the client and also to watch out for any form of abuse (Young, 2007).
Financial abuse of the elderly occurs in quite a number of ways; the elderly can be abused financially through; deliberate theft or even mismanagement of the elderly financial savings. It is important to find intervention mechanism to prevent this form of abuse, as a key way of dealing with financial abuse, it is recommended that social workers who are well trained be appointed as care givers to the elderly.
Social workers are a key group that can be used in the apprehension of such criminal activities by care givers. It is important to educate the public and people nearing elderly ages on the importance of the use of care givers as trustees of their financial future. Through the use of social workers who are trained on the principle of social work and the need for protection of the elderly from financial abuse (Harbison et al., 2012). The appointment of external care givers as the trustees has proven to be a working mechanism that helps to prevent financial abuse of the elderly in society. Below is an outlook of the principles of social work and how they may help in preventing any future forms of financial abuse on the elderly.
Addressing Ageism- Ageism is a critical part of life. Social workers are trained on the identification of clients at different levels of ageism and also the type of ageism at hand while dealing with a given client. It is important that one recognizes if the client is experiencing, psychological ageism. Biological ageism, Social and Cognitive ageism. He or she should be able to determine if the client is aware about their finances, their usage and the remaining balances in the accounts. A social worker should be able to determine these factors before considering if the client needs any form of management of their funds by an external organization.
The Notion of Risk in Practice- A social worker is usually made aware of the notion of risk while in practice. The social worker is made aware of the techniques that can be used by a criminal or even family members to extort the patient of their cash. It is important that a social worker learns to recognize which avenues can be used to steal from the elderly (Janssen, Snoeren, Van Regenmortel, & Abma, 2015). He or she should report these possible avenues to the management in order to find solutions to these problems.
Promoting Care and Autonomy- The promotion of care and autonomy is the number one priority of the social worker. The aim is to ensure that the client receives utmost care from the social worker, and he/she is allowed to be as autonomous as possible. It is important to recognize that many elderly people like to maintain their own independence from the care givers organizations. If the patient is able to manage his/her finances without a problem then the social worker has no need to interfere with that but should continue offering special care to the patient as much as possible.
Social Justice- A client needs to be defended upon the realization by a social worker that patient is being embezzled off their funds. A social worker should be the advocate and also a witness to the claims of financial abuse of a given individual. At any point in time when a social worker realizes that the client is being abused, the social worker is obliged to report this crime to the necessary departments (Chihowski & Hughes, 2008).
Ageing and financial abuse are becoming synonymous terms when it comes to discussing the problems of the elderly in society. It is important to recognize that financial abuse has become a rising concern in many discussions in regards to old age. It is important that institutions are formulated in order to curb this menace. The elderly should be educated on the importance of financial management of their pension funds and the importance of having a social worker as a care giver. Social workers can act as watchdogs and whistle blowers of any form of financial abuse to the elderly in the community...
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