Are you interested in aging and working with older adults to promote their quality of life and independence? Then a master's degree in social work with a concentration in Aging Services and Policy may be for you.
Through specialized coursework and field experience, the concentration prepares social workers to practice across the continuum of services for older adults and their families, including health, behavioral health, memory care, community and residential settings. We emphasize culturally responsive practice to address the increasing diversity among older adults locally, nationally and internationally. With an MSW concentration in Aging Services and Policy, you’ll also learn to intervene in social justice issues impacting older adults — such as access to health and long-term care, elder abuse and neglect, and financial exploitation — through education, management, program development, advocacy and policy.
Your Career Options
Social work jobs serving seniors are plentiful, and geriatric social work is among the nation’s top 20 careers in terms of growth potential. With an MSW concentration in Aging Services and Policy, career options include:
- Counseling and care management in hospice, community mental health centers, long-term care and private practice settings
- Serving as a first responder to crisis situations such as homelessness, elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation
- Conducting program development, planning and evaluation of aging services in government agencies and nonprofits
- Building aging service models to focus on wellness, quality of life, meaning and community
- Advocating and innovating aging services to promote social justice for all older adults
About this Course
This course engages students in the conversation, scholarship, and social work practice issues related to how social justice is promoted across age groups and generational cohorts (i.e., baby boomers, generation X, millennial generation). While looking at debates for how families, local communities, states, and nations link age to power, decision-making, funding, and access to resources, the course also examines what within age group issues of injustice and inequality persist. Topics include: generational equity in terms of government budgets and debt, intergenerational issues related to sustainability and ecological justice, age-based versus need-based service delivery models, interventions to address intergenerational conflicts within families, and best practices in intergenerational social service models. This course is designed as a seminar course for social work students from any concentration to explore values related to social justice as they play out across all levels of practice.
About this Course
This course provides an overview of social policy and service delivery issues in gerontology. It includes a critical review of rapidly developing policy issues, as well as an overview of U.S. health care and social service delivery systems serving older adults. The course encourages students to participate in critical analysis of issues and to develop and analyze innovative proposals to improve policy and programs for older adults. This course fulfills the policy requirement for the Aging Services and Policy concentration.
Social Work Assessment and Intervention in Aging
About this Course
This course focuses on biological, neurological, psychological, social, spiritual, and environmental aspects of late life as a foundation for the delivery of assessments and interventions to older adults. This course presents information on demographic projections, population trends, and theoretical perspectives that inform gerontological social work practice. This class additionally focuses on the unique nature of social work with this diverse population including a continuum of care services for older adults, interdisciplinary nature of helping services, dynamic nature of aging for multiple vulnerable older adults such as those facing institutionalized oppression, and specific attention to elder wellness.
Chandra Matthews, MSW ’00, Director, Jay and Rose Phillips Senior Solutions Center, Jewish Family Service of Colorado Read More
My Aging Policy class tied policy learning to what was actually happening in the Denver older adult community. [The professor] helped us make professional connections, which continue to serve me well today.
Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Aging Services and Policy
Administration on Aging
The federal Administration on Aging funds programs for older people under the Older Americans Act. The Region VIII office works directly with tribal organizations, grantees and agencies for aging in six states to ensure that older Americans have the opportunity to age with dignity, have choices in managing their own lives, and remain active and independent within their communities. Each internship is tailored to student interests in areas of gerontology, social policy and administration.
Dignity Hospice provides hospice services primarily to geriatric patients but has the resources to treat any adult. Interns provide psychosocial assessment, develop social work goals and interventions on the plan of care, evaluate care plan effectiveness and make home visits. As a collaborative member of an interdisciplinary team, the social work intern offers a unique perspective on patient care.
Masterpiece Living provides the resources and expertise necessary to promote healthy lifestyles that result in a successful aging experience. Interns work with senior living communities to support enhancement of successful aging cultures. Opportunities include developing trainings, initiatives, support materials and communications designed to support aging populations.
Denver VA Medical Center
The Denver VA Medical Center is a major referral hospital that provides comprehensive medical, surgical, neurological, rehabilitation and psychiatric care to veterans. Medical social work interns work in the inpatient medical and surgical units, the physical rehabilitation unit and a 60-bed nursing home unit, where they complete psychosocial assessments, educate and assist veterans with advanced directives, make referrals for community and VA resources and benefits, facilitate discharge planning and participate in family meetings. Interns also have the opportunity to work with veterans receiving dialysis or hospice care, and with the spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury multidisciplinary teams.
Upcoming Final Application Deadline: July 2022 Advanced-Standing Denver Campus Program