Social Work with Older Adults and Their Families: Changing Practice Paradigms

Topics: Gerontology, Sociology, Aging Pages: 2 (585 words) Published: April 11, 2013
In this article, the author discusses successful aging and the “new gerontology” and explores how these varying views about how people ages are associated with changes in practice paradigms. The author present research findings and practice strategies to support the view that risk and resilience theory can be a significant influence on future social work practice with older adults and their families. Given the far-reaching social, economic, and demographic changes in the aging population, the authors argue for a methodological and practice-oriented transformation in future geriatric social work. The authors suggest that if older adults are to maintain their independence and well-being, a resilience-enhancing social work intervention will be especially effective in fostering the specific survival skills that older adults often already utilize to help them cope with difficult situations. A risk–resilience model sensitive to ethnic difference and practiced at multiple systems levels (e.g., the community) is offered as an advancement of the traditional models of social work practice. Recent gerontological research supports the view that the vast social, economic, and demographic changes in the aging population require a far-reaching transformation in future geriatric social work practice (Binstock, 1999; Scharlach & Kaye, 1997; Unger & Seeman, 1999). However, critics of this intervention have pointed out its lack of universality (Merriam, 1993) and its insufficient attention to an individual’s socio-cultural context (Diehl, 1999; Kenyon & Randall, 2001). Therefore, some researchers and practitioners have proposed a different process of exploring a person’s past called narrative gerontology (Polkinghorne, 1996). Narrative gerontology is based on the postmodern idea that personal stories contain “a set of larger stories or ‘macro’ narratives that reflect shared history, values, beliefs, expectations, and myths” (Webster, 2002, p. 143), thereby giving a broader...
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