-By Christopher Mays
If you have been following the impeachment proceedings recently you may recognize Professor Jonathan Turley. He testified before the House Judiciary Committee in both the impeachment for President Trump and President Clinton, giving his opinion on the legal technicalities involved in the process. He was also one of my professors in law school, so I occasionally peruse his blog. As it turns out, he has some very good advice when it comes to Elder Law and caring for family: consider hiring a private social worker for aging family members.
The case for a private social worker is made in an article on Professor Turley’s blog authored by Darren Smith (click here for a link to the article on Prof. Turley’s blog). Essentially the case is this. Hospitals, Nursing Facilities and Government Agencies all have their own social workers. While in each case the social worker’s job is to advocate for the patient – there is always the potential that a social worker’s ability to advocate for a patient can be influenced by the interests of their employer.
As an attorney who has helped clients with guardianship of older family members and served as a guardian for seniors – I cannot say enough good things about what social workers do. Much of my work has been with the Regional Older Adult Facilities Mental Health Support Team (RAFT) with Arlington County. RAFT social workers do a number of things to help improve the living situation for seniors, including:
- Assessing the mental health, behavioral, and care needs of older adults.
- Providing educational and therapeutic support to both families and patients.
- Training staff at care facilities about the specialized needs of seniors with mental health issues
- Medication monitoring and evaluation
Personally, I have had a number of cases where older adults have been: unable to find placements because of mental health or behavior issues; at risk from poorly managed behaviors (wandering, etc.); or faced with other significant problems. In every case where I have had social workers, like the ones from the RAFT team, assist clients – we have been able to quickly transition seniors from unstable and potentially dangerous situations to well managed, comfortable and compassionate living arrangements.
When faced with family members in difficult situations because of aging, probably the most common reaction is “What do I do?” Social workers excel at helping people answer that question and come up with a plan for moving forward.