Four things nobody understands about social work with older adults

In honor of National Social Worker’s Month 2024, we asked four of our amazing social workers on staff to highlight some aspects of their work with older adults in our AgeAssured program that are sometimes overlooked by the general public. We hope their insights deepen your understanding of the value social workers contribute to the ability of all older adults to thrive and remain independent for as long as possible, wherever they call home.

Working around constraints

By Marissa Badler, MSW, C-ASWCM, CDP

Social workers have a passionate desire to help people, and we’re often frustrated when we can’t wave a magic wand and fix system-wide problems that affect our clients. Older adults, for example, are often limited by a lack of affordable in-home care, lack of decent housing, few affordable transportation solutions, unavailability of meal and grocery delivery, and difficulties in communicating with medical providers. At Assured Allies, we encounter these same societal challenges but embrace innovative ways to solve them at the individual level. We coach our members to communicate more effectively with their doctor, cut through the noise to find the best-in-class device tailored to their personalized needs, and empower them to broaden their circle of support. We can’t solve every problem, but our company goes a long way to fill some of the many gaps in our society so that older adults can thrive at home for as long as possible.

Managing emotional toll

By Angelina Portuense, LSW

No one’s life is perfect. Everyone encounters obstacles that build character and resilience—including social workers! To avoid burnout from managing both our personal struggles and those of our clients, social workers need to be mentally tough, compassionate, and able to compartmentalize and decompress when needed. In my work at Assured Allies, for example, I need to put aside my personal life and be fully present when a client worries about a catastrophic fall or is dismayed by how a new chronic disease diagnosis might affect their plans. Likewise, when I come home, I need to put aside my clients’ needs to focus on the needs of my family—and myself! I’m grateful that I work for a company that is dedicated to successful aging and that provides us with updated research, proven tools, and techniques. Knowing that I am a stable and reliable support for the members we serve lessens the emotional toll.

Paying attention to self-care

By Anna Gray, MSW

Social workers constantly advocate for the well-being of others, yet sometimes our well-being remains on the back burner. Self-care is not just about bubble baths and face masks. It’s often much more mundane: sufficient rest, good nutrition, professional support for challenging cases, exercise, and time to read a good book or recharge in nature. Even a small amount of time—10 minutes in the middle of a busy day to step away, stretch, walk, or meditate—can make a big difference. I enjoy drinking a cup of tea and taking walking breaks throughout the day to recharge and increase my energy and feelings of wellbeing. 

Honoring our scope of responsibilities

By Robin Carpenter, MSW

Social workers’ responsibilities extend far beyond providing counseling or support services. We often serve as advocates, liaisons, and coordinators, navigating complex systems to ensure that our older adult clients receive the assistance they need. This multifaceted role demands a diverse skill set and the ability to adapt to challenging situations. And here at Assured Allies, many of our social workers also take on leadership responsibilities. 

Historically, social workers are under-appreciated and under-compensated for the work they do. This year’s Social Work Month theme is ‘Empowering Social Workers: Social Workers deserve better compensation for the important work they do.’ I’m grateful that Assured Allies already honors this year’s theme by generously compensating and truly valuing the social workers on staff. We are recognized for our contributions to the company’s mission and supported by its commitment to work and life balance. At Assured Allies, we feel good doing the good work we do, every day.

March may be National Social Worker’s Month, but here at Assured Allies we hope you’ll join us in appreciating their contributions all year long. Why not reach out today and tell a social worker in your circle how much you value what they do?