Working with older people to improve their quality of life gives a gerontological counselor an opportunity to provide meaningful services. Aging presents challenges to many aspects of life for older people, including the need to cope with physical limitations as well as with cultural disadvantages and mental health problems. As a licensed social worker, a gerontological counselor works with clients who are aged 65 or more, and special training is required to work in the field. Duties may extend into personal and social situations as well as practical concerns of conducting daily life.
Serving as a Community Resource
A skilled gerontological counselor knows a lot about a community and the services that it offers. Knowing where to go and what to ask for are valuable tools that are often unknown by the people who need them, and a good gerontological counselor stays well informed. Older adults often do not understand the services that are provided by governmental or private agencies, and a counselor can let them know about healthcare or social services that can help them enjoy an active and independent lifestyle.
Providing Independent Consultation Services
The loss of personal relationships through the aging process can cause depression and other mental health conditions that respond to counseling. Aging adults face an onslaught of changes that are beyond their control, and gerontological counselors can help them accept change as a part of life.
Many seniors lose the ability to drive a car or to manage a checkbook, often at the request of children, and accepting the loss of control over personal issues is problematic. Associating diminished ability to perform basic activities with diminishing self respect is often a condition that confronts a gerontological counselor. With intensive training, counselors are able to help clients talk about topics related to the end of life for themselves and bereavement over the loss of old friends.
Working in Organizations
The Social Work Policy Institute at addresses issues related to providing services in community organizations as well as in senior living centers. Concerns about personal health, financial resources and isolation are constant among some of the aging population as they represent serious problems.
Counselors use their knowledge and experience to affect solutions by broadening access to care giving organizations. Such efforts aid seniors in maintaining the quality of life that can help prevent the onset of illness and the need for hospitalization. Some techniques that counselors use include these:
• arranging outings to concerts, plays or shops
• providing recording equipment for documenting life stories
• assisting in writing letters and making phone calls
• arranging group activities for exercise
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Families who are able to provide a place for older members often need the guidance of a gerontological counselor to learn about coordinating medical care. Understanding the support services that are available to make home care practical and possible can aid families in providing home care for an extended period. Transitioning to a long term care facility is a difficult process for elderly people as well as for their families.
Counselors serve vital services for the aging population by providing support for the later stages of life. Working as independent counselors or in community organizations, counselors are links that connects seniors to the world around them.