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Article

Adult Protective Services  

Patricia Brownell and Joanne Marlatt Otto

Adult Protective Services (APS) are empowered by states and local communities to respond to reports and cases of vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect. While incorporating legal, medical, and mental health services, APS programs are part of the social services delivery system and incorporate principles and practices of the social work profession.

Article

End-of-Life Decisions  

Ellen L. Csikai

As medical technology advances producing the ability to prolong life almost indefinitely, individuals and families are asked to make increasingly complex choices about what treatments best correspond to their conceptions of how they wish to die. These decisions create a need for attention to medical aspects as well as psychosocial consequences. Social workers play pivotal roles in ensuring access to needed information and resources and in safeguarding individuals' rights to self-determination in end-of-life decisions. This entry discusses issues related to advance care planning, the process of end-of-life decision making, and social work roles with individuals, families, and health care providers.

Article

Family Caregiving  

Sandra Owens and Letha A. Chadiha

There is evidence that family caregiving in the United States has been increasing at an unprecedented rate as a result of various societal issues. This entry provides a summary of the scholarly literature regarding elder-caregiving trends, demographics, legislation, challenges, and racial and socioeconomic impacts, as well as the rewards of caregiving. Additionally, the entry provides empirical findings regarding evidence-based interventions associated with family caregiving of older adults.

Article

Family Estrangement  

Kylie Agllias

Family estrangement—a concept similar to emotional cutoff in Bowen family systems theory—is the unsatisfactory physical or emotional distancing between at least two family members. It is attributed to a number of biological, psychological, social, and structural factors affecting the family, including attachment disorders, incompatible values and beliefs, unfulfilled expectations, critical life events and transitions, parental alienation, and ineffective communication patterns. Family estrangement is often experienced as a considerable loss; its ambiguous nature and social disenfranchisement can contribute to significant grief responses, perceived stigma, and social isolation in some cases. The social-work profession has a role to play in raising social and political awareness of the prevalence of, contributors to, and effects of estrangement on the intergenerational family, with clinicians working to assess and address the impact of estrangement on individuals and the family system.

Article

Filial Responsibility  

Rita Chou

With the rapid rise of the aging population, how to provide support and care for older adults has become an increasingly important issue across the world. One way of such provision in many societies has been through adult children. An important concept, attitude, and practice in this regard is filial responsibility. This article first looks into the definition of filial responsibility and its ethical foundation or theoretical underpinning as manifested in various theories. Next, the article examines changes and continuity in filial responsibility in the face of modernization and other social and cultural changes. To better understand the many faces of filial responsibility, the article discusses parental expectations of filial responsibility and the attitudes and practices of adult children. The extent of offspring’s filial responsibility attitude as a predictor of actual support and care to parents is discussed. In addition, to comprehend the effects of filial responsibility on individual well-being, this article examines not only the effects of parental expectations of filial responsibility on their well-being but also the consequences of fulfilling filial responsibility on offspring’s well-being. Finally, the article examines the relationship between filial responsibility and policy and the implications of filial responsibility for the helping professions, including social work.

Article

Grandparents  

Priscilla Gibson and Valandra

Little attention has been paid to the role of grandparents, yet this intergenerational family role has shifted both inside and outside of the family. Social policies have pushed it into public debate on the rights of grandparents. Although traditional characteristics remain, new contemporary aspects of the role have emerged. This entry provides content on the significant factors that prompted the diversity in grandparenting and its social construction by adult children, grandchildren, and society.

Article

Life Span: Oldest-Old and Advanced Old Age (After the Age 85)  

Judith G. Gonyea

As a result of rising life expectancies, America’s older population is itself aging. The U.S. Census Bureau projections suggest that, by the middle of the 21st century, more than 40% of Americans aged 65 and older can expect to live to at least the age of 90. Although the oldest-old (often defined as persons ages 80 and older or those ages 85-plus) is a diverse population, advanced old age is associated with a greater risk of experiencing economic hardship, disabling illnesses or health conditions, and social isolation. A growing public policy challenge will be ensuring the economic well-being, the health, and the dignity of society’s very oldest citizens.