In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Practice Interventions and Aging

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Organizations
  • Journals
  • Social Work Assessment
  • Individual Psychotherapies and Psychotherapy Practice
  • Alternative and Non-Traditional Psychosocial Approaches
  • Approaches for Dementia Patients
  • Approaches with Caregivers of Persons with Dementia
  • Treatment of Older Persons with Serious Mental Illness or Personality Disorders
  • Substance Abuse Approaches with Older Clients
  • Community-Based, Home-Based, and Geriatric Care Management Approaches
  • Residential Care and Group Social Work Approaches
  • End-of-Life and Palliative Care Social Work

Social Work Practice Interventions and Aging
Kathryn Betts Adams
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 January 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0121


This bibliography focuses on resources to inform social work practice with older adults. The gerontology literature is plentiful, but textbooks and articles illustrating and evaluating best practices with older adults are limited. This bibliography topic includes books specifically aimed at student social workers, as well as journal articles and other materials from social work publications as well as those of allied professions such as nursing and psychology that are relevant to geriatric social work practice. References here cover works focused on direct practice (individuals, families, and small groups) in geriatric mental health, in long-term care and residential settings, and with older people and their family caregivers who experience challenges associated with aging.

General Overviews

This small, eclectic collection of materials includes good introductory reading for beginning social work students or others new to the topic of social work practice with older adults. Chapin and Cox 2001 offers a clear recommendation for the strengths-based perspective in working with older adults, and Greene and Cohen 2005 discusses resilience and the social work imperative to recognize and nurture this capacity in older clients, whereas the Fabbre, et al. 2011 article focuses on problem-solving and relationship skills. The edited book Scogin and Shah 2012 offers chapters that compile research evidence and practice modifications for evidence-based practices in various practice areas with older adults.

  • Chapin, R., and E. O. Cox. 2001. Changing the paradigm: Strengths-based and empowerment social work practice with frail elders. Journal of Gerontological Social Work 36.3–4: 165–179.

    This is over ten years old, but has not lost its freshness as a persuasive article about the applicability of the strengths approach to conceptualizing social work practice with vulnerable elders, noting the ability of even very frail elders to participate in care decisions and be empowered within the social worker–client relationship.

  • Fabbre, V., A. S. Buffington, S. J. Altfeld, G. E. Shier, and R. L. Golden. 2011. Social work and transitions of care: Observations from an intervention study. Journal of Gerontological Social Work 54.6: 615–626.

    DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2011.589100

    This is a report of key qualitative findings about the process of social work service provision in a hospital setting with geriatric clients. It illustrates the importance of problem-solving and relationship building in the social worker’s roles.

  • Greene, R. R., and H. L. Cohen. 2005. Social work with older adults and their families: Changing practice paradigms. Families in Society 86:367–373.

    DOI: 10.1606/1044-3894.3434

    This is a great introductory article for students and practitioners new to the field of aging. The authors introduce the concept of “successful aging” and make use of a resilience framework to summarize the most important social work roles with older adults.

  • Scogin, F., and A. Shah, eds. 2012. Making evidence-based psychological treatments work with older adults. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    DOI: 10.1037/13753-000

    This book focuses on evidence-based practice in six key areas of practice (including such often-overlooked areas as geriatric anxiety and behavioral disturbances in dementia). Chapters summarize the research evidence followed by discussion of implementation issues by experienced clinicians in the field. The latter includes suggestions for selecting interventions and consideration of organizational supports. There are helpful case examples and copies of assessment instruments.

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