Session: Understanding and Addressing the Multiple Needs of Diverse Older Adults: A Critical Social Work Challenge (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

75 Understanding and Addressing the Multiple Needs of Diverse Older Adults: A Critical Social Work Challenge

Friday, January 15, 2016: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Ballroom Level-Renaissance Ballroom West Salon A (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Aging Services and Gerontology
Symposium Organizer:
Caroline Rosenthal Gelman, PhD, Hunter College
Kevin J. Mahoney, PhD, Boston College
The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to increase from 35 to 88.5 million by 2050, and racial and ethnic minorities will comprise 42% of older Americans (CDC, 2013).   This dramatic growth has important consequences for social work practice, policy, and research pertaining to older adults and their families.  Members of racial and ethnic minorities face life-long oppression, racism, and social inequality. With the ageism experienced by many in later life, these elders experience cumulative lifetime disadvantage resulting in compromised health, decreased access to resources, and multiple psychosocial stressors. As a group, minority older adults fare worse than their White counterparts on most measures of health and well-being (Gee & Ford, 2011).  There are also well-documented racial and ethnic disparities in access to health services (AHRQ, 2014).  Older adults, and particularly those from communities of color with increasingly complex needs, constitute a population that social workers must be engaged with through practice, advocacy, policy, and research.  This undoubtedly poses one of the great challenges to social work in the decades to come. 

In this symposium we present five examples of critical gaps in knowledge and practice being addressed at Silberman Aging: A Hartford Center of Excellence, one of only five in the country.  The Center’s mission is to promote inter-professional, community-engaged leadership in research, policy, education, and practice in gerontological social work, with a focus on ethnically, culturally, racially, and economically diverse urban communities.  The first project focuses on building cultural competence in aging and LGBT services nationally by evaluating the impact of various in-person and web-based curricula for aging network professionals.  A second paper discusses the pilot testing of a care transition model designed to address complex health and psychosocial needs of diverse older adults.  A third presentation describes gaps in knowledge and information uncovered among older adults, their families, and professionals serving them in an under-resourced urban setting and innovative approaches to addressing such needs.  A fourth paper presents results of interviews of chronically-ill older adults in Harlem regarding perceptions of symptom burden, caregiving needs, resources, and service utilization, including community Pain Management and Palliative Care. Finally, a fifth paper examines results of outreach strategies used in the Sandy Mobilization, Assessment, Referral and Treatment for Mental Health (SMART-MH) project, an innovative academic-community collaboration of psychiatrists, social workers, public and non-profit service providers, and student interns who are integrating micro-macro practice.  Taken together, the presentations highlight the leadership role social work can take in uncovering, exploring, and productively addressing the needs of the increasingly important older adult demographic through research, practice, and policy efforts.

Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (2014).  Disparities in healthcare quality among racial and ethnic minority groups: Selected findings from the 2010 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report.  Author: Rockville, MD.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013).  The state of aging and health in America 2013.  Atlanta, GA: Author. 

Gee, G. C., & Ford, C. L. (2011). Structural racism and health inequities: Old issues, new directions. Du Bois Review, 8(1), 115–132.

* noted as presenting author
Building Cultural Competence in Aging and LGBT Services Nationally: Evaluating Training Curricula of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging
Nancy Giunta, PhD, Hunter College; Daniel S. Gardner, PhD, Hunter College; Meredith Doherty, LCSW, Hunter College
Project Connect
Carmen Morano, PhD, Hunter College
Uncovering and Responding to the Training Needs of Diverse Older Adults, Their Caregivers, and the Professionals Who Serve Them
Caroline Rosenthal Gelman, PhD, Hunter College; Rebekah Glushefski, MSW, Hunter College; Margaret Salisu, MSW, Hunter College
Community Access to Palliative Care Among Low Income, Minority Older Adults
Daniel S. Gardner, PhD, Hunter College; Angela Ghesquiere, PhD, Hunter College; Carolina Villanueva, MPH, Hunter College
Integrating Community Engagement with Mental Health Service Delivery: Breaking Down the Micro-Macro Binary
Rebekah Glushefski, MSW, Hunter College; Nancy Giunta, PhD, Hunter College; Jacquelin Berman, PhD, New York City Department for the Aging; Jo Anne Sirey, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College
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