Video | 00:42:04

The Greying Elephant in the Room: Substance Abuse and Older Adults

by Carol Tosone
Explore the growing problem of substance abuse among older adults through this case study of a 68-year-old client struggling with alcoholism and depression.

The Greying Elephant in the Room: Substance Abuse and Older Adults
As the older adult population increases, so does the number of substance abusers in this age group. In fact, government data reports that the aging baby boomers make up the fastest growing group of substance abusers. In order to address this growing problem, social workers must learn more about working with older clients as well as how to assess and treat substance abuse within this population.

The Greying Elephant in the Room aims to shed light on this seldom discussed issue, while also providing social work students with a comprehensive view of its treatment. In this video, you'll see the portrayal of Denise, a social work student who recently began working with older adults. Denise's new client, Carol, is a 68-year-old woman who lives alone and was recently hospitalized after a fall. Denise soon finds out there is more to Carol's story than she realized.

Woven in between scenes of Denise and Carol's sessions are enlightening clips of Denise's meetings with her supervisor, Dr. Straussner, who is not an actor but a real professor of Social Work at NYU. These valuable clips portray the way a new social work student may typically approach a similar case, and her supervisor's guidance in response. Dr. Straussner helps Denise see the possibility of Carol's substance abuse and offers suggestions to help her address this concern. In addition to providing useful information specific to substance abuse, Dr. Straussner provides insightful suggestions helpful in working with any older adults. She shows Denise and the viewers how to handle various situations with older clients in session, including treatment resistance, countertransference and self-disclosure.

The video portrays Denise's growth as she returns for more sessions with Carol following her supervision meetings. Denise applies things she has learned from her supervisor, such as gathering information about Carol's prescriptions and screening for imminent danger. Through Carol, the video depicts many common experiences of older clients with substance abuse issues: loss, loneliness, depression, anger, and denial. It also shows Denise's attempts to encourage Carol's treatment.

The Greying Elephant in the Room offers an accurate portrayal of social work with older clients, and the ways social workers can engage, assess, diagnose, and treat substance abuse within this population.
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In Depth
If you're interested in more information about substance abuse in older clients, this video is for you. While it thoroughly covers substance abuse among older people, it also provides general information useful in working with all older clients. The accurate portrayal of the intern's supervision meetings offers viewers great tips and tools to carry with you in any work with older clients. You'll learn from the intern's progress as well as from her mistakes, and you'll enhance your knowledge of the growing substance abuse problem among older adults.

From watching this video, you will:
  • Learn important facts and statistics about older adults and substance abuse.
  • Become familiar with the necessary steps to engage, assess, diagnose, and treat older adults with substance abuse issues.
  • Watch as an experienced supervisor shares tips on how to handle various situations with older adults in session, including treatment resistance, countertransference and self-disclosure.
Length of video: 00:42:04
English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD
Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-492-4
Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-492-5
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