More Funding Needed
Additional Funds Needed for Older Americans Act
Older Americans Act (OAA), enacted in 1965, supports a variety of services that enhance the health and well-being of older adults. Additional funding is needed in FY08 to continue and expand programs essential to older adults’ independence and dignity. Social workers and consumers play a crucial role in advocating for OAA funding.
Funding Sought for New Respite Care Act
Support for family and other informal caregivers is key to helping older adults remain in their homes. As a member of the Lifespan Respite Task Force, NASW lobbied for the
Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006, which was signed into law in December. This act will expand access to respite care for family caregivers and improve local coordination of services. NASW and the Task Force are advocating for appropriation of funds to implement this legislation in FY08.
Social Work’s Role in Aging and Mental Health
With their training in mental health assessment and treatment, their skills in collaboration, and their close proximity to other health and allied health professionals in health and long-term care settings, social workers are well positioned to educate other professionals about mental health and aging—and to provide mental and emotional health services to older adults.
In a 2004 study of licensed social workers nationwide, NASW’s Center for Workforce Studies found that almost 75 percent of social workers provide services to adults 55 and older, regardless of the practice setting or focus. This number will likely increase as the U.S. population ages. Among the 12 percent of social workers who specialize in aging practice, psychosocial issues, mental illness, and grief and bereavement issues rank among their clients’ top concerns.
NASW Aging and Mental Health Resources
NASW has developed a number of resources to educate older adults and their families about mental health and aging issues and to enhance the skills of social workers serving older adults. This list is included in OWL’s Older Americans’ Mental Health Week toolkit, available in print and CD-rom formats.
Visit the Aging Practice section for more information and resources