Clinical Practice with Older Adults Course Descriptions

All sessions will be held on Friday mornings from 9:00am to Noon at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration:

969 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637 
A continental breakfast is provided before each class. 

February 1, 2019: Orientation

This session will create a framework for examining aging from a variety of perspectives: biomedical, psychological, socioeconomic, cultural, and phenomenological. Contemporary trends that are shaping aging and the opportunities for social work research, policy, and practice will be explored. 

February 8, 2019: Bio-Medical Considerations

This session will explore the fundamental biology of aging, bringing participants to an understanding of normal aging processes, common geriatric syndromes, and end of life issues. The most common chronic illnesses in older adulthood as well as concepts of multimorbidity and frailty will be examined in the context of older adult health. The session will conclude by exploring the importance of interprofessional teamwork in older adult health care.

February 15, 2019: Understanding Health Insurance Systems for Older Adults 
This section will review the various health insurance systems that older adults utilize in the United States (and Illinois specifically), including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Special attention will be provided to the new Medicaid managed care systems that have been implemented in Illinois in recent years and to resources available to assist older clients in navigating these complex systems. Participants will also explore and discuss the complex factors involved in health insurance and health care decision-making, including health literacy and socioeconomic factors.

February 22, 2019: Navigating Health Care and Social Service Systems

This session will describe the healthcare and community-based resource systems that older adults navigate.  Participants will understand the complexities of options, areas for advocacy, and how to more confidently direct clients toward needed assistance.  Special attention will be paid to client-related factors that are often under-recognized by these systems that may impact utilization including: self-management, sexual and gender identity, and substance use.

March 1, 2019: Assessment and Intervention

This session will explore key components of the biopsychosocial assessment as well as the adaptation of one’s assessment style for an older adult population.  Special considerations relating to each phase of the worker-client relationship will be explored from engagement, to issues that may emerge over the course of the relationship, to termination.   Modification of intervention strategies in response to cohort effects, age-related changes that affect the treatment process, and treatment setting will be highlighted.  The application of self psychology, life review and cognitive behavioral therapy with an older population will be illustrated.  Effective assessment instruments for the evaluation of treatment outcomes will also be shared.

March 8, 2019: Mental Health Issues

This session will review common mental health problems, and the ways in which presentation of these disorders may differ in older adults, from anxiety and depression, to late-life psychosis, to personality disorders.  DSM-5 changes will be highlighted.  Case examples and class exercises will be employed to illustrate the clinical material and attention will be given to the assessment and treatment of the suicidal older adult.

March 15, 2019: Caring for People Affected by Dementia

Cognitive impairment is quite common among older adults. It ranges on a continuum from mild forgetting to severe problems with memory, thinking, language, and self-care abilities. This session will describe this continuum from the point of diagnosis to death, differentiate types of dementia, and address care issues and options for both diagnosed individuals and their caregivers.

March 22, 2019: Caregivers and Family Dynamics

An essential element of social work with older adults is the integration of the elder’s social supports into the assessment and plan of care. More importantly, these social supports, or caregivers, often have unique needs themselves, especially when they are family members. Participants will learn about the roles of caregivers, the impact of caregiving on the caregiver, and common family dynamic trends in aging. Elder abuse and financial exploitation will be discussed.

March 29, 2019: Ethical, Legal and Practice Issues Near the End-of-Life

This session will address the issues older adults often face as they near the end of life, and the ways that we as professionals can be helpful as our clients confront multiple losses and, ultimately, their mortality.  Common ethical dilemmas that arise, particularly as they relate to reduced capacity and self-neglect, will be explored.  Further, this session will provide an overview of key legal and practice issues relating to preserving autonomy: assessing decisional capacity, guardianship, powers of attorney, and do not resuscitate/physician orders for life-sustaining treatment.

April 5, 2019: Culture and Intersecting Identities

This session will address and integrate discussions of culture, religion, spirituality, and values. Participants will be provided with ways to develop a change plan and how to use motivational interviewing techniques for recognizing and reinforcing change talk.