2 minute read

Social Work

Support For The Caregiver

As with most roles in life, there are both positive and negative aspects to being a caregiver to an older adult. Caregivers struggle to balance the personal, physical, and emotional aspects of caregiving, as well as their other roles and responsibilities. It is not surprising that many feel overwhelmed and stressed. This phenomenon is generally referred to as caregiver burden. Social workers play a key role in monitoring for signs of caregiver burden and helping families learn to cope with and prevent increased stress levels. It is important for social workers to maintain regular contact with the caregiver in order to assess for increased stress levels. Administrating surveys or questionnaires that are designed to measure caregiver burden can be helpful in this regard. Though assessment skills are clearly important, another necessary skill is being a good listener. Being able to discuss concerns with someone who is genuinely concerned and willing to listen can be therapeutic in and of itself. Caregivers report that talking to others who are going through similar experiences can also be helpful. Therefore, social workers often connect caregivers with support groups. Work with caregivers and review of the literature on caregiving, make it evident that one of the most important ways to support caregivers is to ensure that they have adequate time away from their caregiving roles. This supplemental care is often referred to as respite care. Social workers work with the caregivers to ensure that adequate respite care is in place through either formal or informal systems.



COX, E.; PARSONS, R.; and KIMBOKO, P. ‘‘Social Services and Intergenerational Caregivers: Issues for Social Work.’’ Social Work (September–October 1988).

LINDERMAN, D., and MELLOR, J. ‘‘The Distinctive Role of Gerontological Social Work.’’ Continuum 19, no. 1 (1999): 1–3.

MCCALLION, P.; TOSELAND, R.; and DIEHI, M. ‘‘Social Work Practice with Caregivers of Frail Older Adults.’’ Research on Social Work Practice 4, no. 1 (1994): 64–88.

WALKER, A.; MARTIN, S.; and JONES, L. ‘‘The Benefits and Costs of Caregiving and Care Receiving for Daughters and Mothers.’’ Journal of Gerontology 47, no. 3 (1992): S130—S139.

Work Interest Group of the Hartford Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training Program. ‘‘The Role of the Social Worker in Interdisciplinary Geriatric Teams. Continuum 19, no. 1 (1999): 4–6

A elderly Muslim vendor sells shoes at an outdoor marketplace in Pakistan. (Photo by Mr. Cory Langley.)

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Social Work - Role Of Social Work, The Caregiver, Support For The Caregiver