Social Work with Seniors

Applied Community Studies
Social Work
Course Code
SOWK 2362
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course is designed to provide students with an overview of practice and policy issues in gerontology from a social work perspective. The emphasis is on the role of social workers in assisting older adults and/or their families in home, community, or residential care settings. Issues to be explored include the bio psychosocial components of aging, housing challenges, social supports, and legal considerations related to end of life care and representation agreements. Healthcare legislation from different levels of government and funding challenges will be explored as well. Students in the course will learn more about mental health, addictions, and the abuse/neglect of seniors. Students will learn more about the impact of poverty on seniors, inclusive practices with clients, and working from a strength based vs. a deficit approach. Working with seniors from a multicultural perspective and from different socioeconomic groups will be examined as well.
Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • The aging of the population in Canada and elsewhere makes it essential that families address the challenges faced by aging parents.
  • People have the capacity and right to make a continued contribution to society throughout the life span and families and communities are enriched by the involvement and wisdom of senior citizens.
  • Effective social workers are committed to fostering the health, well-being, empowerment, and self-determination of seniors. 
  • Social work is committed to dispelling common myths about aging and advocating for social change.
  • Effective social workers are aware of their own values with respect to aging, spirituality, and death.
  • Economic and social considerations need to address the ongoing needs and contributions of seniors to society.
Learning Activities

Small group discussion
Guest speakers.


Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of assessment may include some or all of the following:

  • Written papers
  • Exams
  • Presentations (individual or group)
  • Attendance
  • Participation


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

 1. Describe issues related to the demographics of aging, including:

  • Historical and current aging patterns in Canada and other countries,
  • Challenges and benefits on society of an aging population;

2. Describe gender differences in aging, and individual and family theories of development to seniors;

3. Describe how social supports can be mobilized to reduce stress for seniors and their caregivers;

4. Critically analyze government legislation intended to protect the rights of seniors,

  • Describe the dynamics of abuse and neglect, including self-neglect,
  • Describe how social workers can act to prevent or deal with abuse and neglect;

5. Describe relevant legislation, and legal concepts and processes related to aging, including:

  • Power of attorney, living wills, representation agreements,
  • Essential elements of the Canadian economic security system,
  • Aspects of the health care system (public and private) dealing with seniors;

6. Critically analyze options for safe and affordable housing and describe the challenges in the shift from independent to dependent living;

7. Describe normative and non-normative mental and physical challenges including end of life issues, including loss and the grieving process, and the role of the social worker to help seniors through these transitions.

Textbook Materials

Text(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

Dittrick, K. (2014). Social work with older adults. Boston: Pearson.
McPherson, W., & Wistler, A. (2008). Aging as a social process. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.








Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOWK 2362
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Summer 2023