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Psychological Aspects of Later Adulthood
Individuals in later adulthood address developmental tasks that are unique to their life-span phase, and many of these tasks “are psychological in nature” (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2016, p. 657). Many aspects of living as an older adult may differ significantly from what an individual experienced in an earlier phase of his or her life-span. For example, changes in older individuals’ income, living arrangements, social connections, and physical strength may influence how they view themselves, interact with others, and think about their futures.
This week, as you explore the psychological aspects of later adulthood, you consider theories of successful aging and their application to social work practice. You also consider how you might apply models of grieving to support families in a hospice environment when an aging family member approaches death.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
Apply theories of successful aging to social work practice
Apply models of grieving to a hospice environment
Evaluate models of grieving as they relate to social work practice
Evaluate strategies for self-care as a social worker in grief counseling
Learning Resources
Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Required Readings
Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., Brocksen S. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities drafting. [Vital Source e-reader].
“The Parker Family” (pp. 6-8)
Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA:  Cengage Learning.
Chapter 15, “Psychological Aspects of Later Adulthood” (pp. 685-714)
Newell, J. M., & MacNeil, G. A. (2010). Professional burnout, vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue: A review of theoretical terms, risk factors, and preventive methods for clinicians and researchers. Best Practice in Mental Health, 6(2), 57–68.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.
Shier, M. L., & Graham, J. R. (2011). Mindfulness, subjective well-being, and social work: Insight into their Interconnection from social work practitioners. Social Work Education, 30(1), 29–44.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.
Stroebe, M., & Schut, H. (1999). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: Rationale and description. Death Studies, 23(3), 197–224.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.
Zisook, S., & Shear, M. K. (2013). Bereavement, depression, and the DSM-5. Psychiatric Annals, 43(6), 252–254. doi:10.3928/00485713-20130605-03
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.
Required Media
Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Parker family: Episode 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.
Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript
Optional Resources
Use the link below to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.
MSW home page
Cappeliez, P., & Robitaille, A. (2010). Coping mediates the relationships between reminiscence and psychological well-being among older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 14(7), 807–818.
Ong, A. D., Bergeman, C. S., & Boker, S. M. (2009). Resilience comes of age: Defining features in later adulthood. Journal of Personality, 77(6), 1777–1804.
Ong, A. D., Bergeman, C. S., Bisconti, T. L., & Wallace, K. A. (2006). Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 730–749.
Stroebe, M., & Schut, H. (2010). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: A decade on. Omega, 61(4), 273–289.
Weiss, D., & Lang, F. R. (2009). Thinking about my generation: Adaptive effects of a dual age identity in later adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 24(3), 729–734.
Discussion: Psychological Aspects of Aging
Theories of successful aging explain factors that support individuals as they grow old, contributing to their ability to function. Increasing your understanding of factors that support successful aging improves your ability to address the needs of elderly clients and their families.
To prepare for this Discussion, review this week’s media. In addition, select a theory of successful aging to apply to Sara’s case.
By Day 3
Post a Discussion in which you:
Explain key life events that have influenced Sara’s relationships. Be sure to substantiate what makes them key in your perspective.
Explain how you, as Sara’s social worker, might apply a theory of successful aging to her case. Be sure to provide support for your strategy.
By Day 5
Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.
Respond to at least two colleagues who applied a theory of successful aging to Sara’s case that differs from the one you applied. State whether you agree that your colleague’s strategy for applying the theory to Sara’s case is likely to be helpful. Provide support for your response and suggest one additional way your colleague might support Sara’s psychological well-being.
 
Assignment: Models of Grieving
The death of a loved one is a significant event that everyone experiences. An individual’s social environment, including societal and familial cultural factors, may influence how an individual approaches death or grieves the loss of someone else who dies. You can anticipate addressing grief in your social work practice and, therefore, should develop an understanding of the grieving process.
Models of grieving may identify stages through which an individual progresses in response to the death of a loved one; however, these stages do not necessarily occur in lockstep order. People who experience these stages may do so in different order or revisit stages in a circular fashion. Understanding the various ways individuals cope with grief helps you to anticipate their responses and to assist them in managing their grief. Select one model of grieving to address in this assignment.
Addressing the needs of grieving family members can diminish your personal emotional, mental, and physical resources. In addition to developing strategies to assist grieving individuals in crisis, you must develop strategies that support self-care.
In this Assignment, you apply a grieving model to work with families in a hospice environment and suggest strategies for self-care.
By Day 7
Submit a 2- to 4-page paper in which you:
Explain how you, as a social worker, might apply the grieving model you selected to your work with families in a hospice environment.
Explain why you selected to use the grieving model you selected versus other models of grief.
Identify components of the grieving model that you think might be difficult to apply to your social work practice. Explain why you anticipate these challenges.
Identify strategies you might use for your own self care as a social worker dealing with grief counseling. Explain why these strategies might be effective.
 
Psychological Aspects of Later Adulthood

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