Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written for the health care professional.

* This is a professional Version *

Introduction to Social Issues in the Elderly

by Daniel B. Kaplan, PhD, MSW, Barbara J. Berkman, DSW, PhD

Social issues influence an elderly person’s risk and experience of illness as well as a health care practitioner’s ability to deliver timely and appropriate care.

A social history helps members of the interdisciplinary team evaluate care needs and social supports. It should include questions about the following:

  • Family and marital or companion status

  • Living arrangements

  • Financial status

  • Work history

  • Education

  • Typical daily activities (eg, how meals are prepared, what activities add meaning to life, where problems may be occurring)

  • Need for and availability of caregivers (to help plan care)

  • History of trauma, losses, and coping strengths

  • History of substance use and legal issues

  • Patients’ own caregiving responsibilities (which may make patients reluctant to report their own symptoms lest their symptoms or any resulting interventions interfere with caregiving)

* This is a professional Version *