Fewer Social Workers Ready to Care for Rising Number of Elderly

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By Kristin E. Longley

(AXcess News) Washington – As her elderly client lay dying in a semi-conscious state, social worker Susan Fleischer murmured to him as a nurse held the phone to his ear.

For days, family and friends gathered around the man, who was in his 90s, believing he could no longer hear or speak. But Fleischer, a licensed clinical social worker, knew that the man needed encouragement to let go of his life.

What she didn’t know until later, was that her client was trying desperately to mouth words to Fleischer, the care manager he had come to know and trust. He died two hours later.

“It still gives me chills when I think about it,” said Fleischer, executive director of Rona Bartelstone Care Management and Home Healthcare, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “We enable senior citizens to end their lives with peace, grace and dignity.”

Social workers are constantly behind the scenes of stories like these. Helping the most vulnerable people find access to human services and medical treatment can be heartbreaking but essential work, she said.

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