Socw 6210- 7 | SOCW 6210 – Human Behavior and the Social Environment II | Walden University


Psychological Aspects of Later Adulthood

Individuals in later adulthood address developmental tasks that are unique to their life-span phase, and many of these tasks “are psychological in nature” (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2016, p. 657). Many aspects of living as an older adult may differ significantly from what an individual experienced in an earlier phase of his or her life-span. For example, changes in older individuals’ income, living arrangements, social connections, and physical strength may influence how they view themselves, interact with others, and think about their futures.

This week, as you explore the psychological aspects of later adulthood, you consider theories of successful aging and their application to social work practice. You also consider how you might apply models of grieving to support families in a hospice environment when an aging family member approaches death.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Apply theories of successful aging to social work practice
  • Apply models of grieving to a hospice environment
  • Evaluate models of grieving as they relate to social work practice
  • Evaluate strategies for self-care as a social worker in grief counseling

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., Brocksen S. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].
“The Parker Family” (pp. 6-8)

Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA:  Cengage Learning.
Chapter 15, “Psychological Aspects of Later Adulthood” (pp. 685-714)

Newell, J. M., & MacNeil, G. A. (2010). Professional burnout, vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue: A review of theoretical terms, risk factors, and preventive methods for clinicians and researchers. Best Practice in Mental Health, 6(2), 57–68.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Shier, M. L., & Graham, J. R. (2011). Mindfulness, subjective well-being, and social work: Insight into their Interconnection from social work practitioners. Social Work Education, 30(1), 29–44.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Stroebe, M., & Schut, H. (1999). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: Rationale and description. Death Studies23(3), 197–224.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Zisook, S., & Shear, M. K. (2013). Bereavement, depression, and the DSM-5. Psychiatric Annals43(6), 252–254. doi:10.3928/00485713-20130605-03
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Parker family: Episode 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.

Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

Optional Resources

Use the link below to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.
MSW home page

Cappeliez, P., & Robitaille, A. (2010). Coping mediates the relationships between reminiscence and psychological well-being among older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 14(7), 807–818.

Ong, A. D., Bergeman, C. S., & Boker, S. M. (2009). Resilience comes of age: Defining features in later adulthood. Journal of Personality, 77(6), 1777–1804.

Ong, A. D., Bergeman, C. S., Bisconti, T. L., & Wallace, K. A. (2006). Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 730–749.

Stroebe, M., & Schut, H. (2010). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: A decade on. Omega61(4), 273–289.

Weiss, D., & Lang, F. R. (2009). Thinking about my generation: Adaptive effects of a dual age identity in later adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 24(3), 729–734.

Discussion: Psychological Aspects of Aging

Theories of successful aging explain factors that support individuals as they grow old, contributing to their ability to function. Increasing your understanding of factors that support successful aging improves your ability to address the needs of elderly clients and their families.

To prepare for this Discussion, review this week’s media. In addition, select a theory of successful aging to apply to Sara’s case.

By Day 3

Post a Discussion in which you:

  • Explain key life events that have influenced Sara’s relationships. Be sure to substantiate what makes them key in your perspective.
  • Explain how you, as Sara’s social worker, might apply a theory of successful aging to her case. Be sure to provide support for your strategy.
By Day 5

Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

Respond to at least two colleagues who applied a theory of successful aging to Sara’s case that differs from the one you applied. State whether you agree that your colleague’s strategy for applying the theory to Sara’s case is likely to be helpful. Provide support for your response and suggest one additional way your colleague might support Sara’s psychological well-being.


Assignment: Models of Grieving

The death of a loved one is a significant event that everyone experiences. An individual’s social environment, including societal and familial cultural factors, may influence how an individual approaches death or grieves the loss of someone else who dies. You can anticipate addressing grief in your social work practice and, therefore, should develop an understanding of the grieving process.

Models of grieving may identify stages through which an individual progresses in response to the death of a loved one; however, these stages do not necessarily occur in lockstep order. People who experience these stages may do so in different order or revisit stages in a circular fashion. Understanding the various ways individuals cope with grief helps you to anticipate their responses and to assist them in managing their grief. Select one model of grieving to address in this assignment.

Addressing the needs of grieving family members can diminish your personal emotional, mental, and physical resources. In addition to developing strategies to assist grieving individuals in crisis, you must develop strategies that support self-care.

In this Assignment, you apply a grieving model to work with families in a hospice environment and suggest strategies for self-care.

By Day 7

Submit a 2- to 4-page paper in which you:

  • Explain how you, as a social worker, might apply the grieving model you selected to your work with families in a hospice environment.
    • Explain why you selected to use the grieving model you selected versus other models of grief.
  • Identify components of the grieving model that you think might be difficult to apply to your social work practice. Explain why you anticipate these challenges.
  • Identify strategies you might use for your own self care as a social worker dealing with grief counseling. Explain why these strategies might be effective.


 Kate Fullmer RE: Discussion – Week 7COLLAPSE

                                                                                  Psychological Aspects of Aging

Key life events that have influenced Sara’s relationships: Sara became a widow when she lost her husband to a heart attack. After this event it was reported that her hoarding became worse. The hoarding had always been a source of embarrassment and anger for Sara’s daughters. This has impacted her daughter Jane to the point that she will not visit Sara and bring her children to visit due to the condition of the home. For her daughter Stephanie who has mental health struggles, the constant fighting due to the condition of the home is what Jane believes is the cause for Stephanie’s relapses with depression. The impact of losing her husband which made her hoarding habit worse, has created more conflict with her daughters. 

As Sara’s social worker, the theory of successful aging that I would apply to her case is Social Reconstruction Syndrome Theory. According to Kirst-Ashman & Zastrow (2016), “There are three major recommendations to this theory. First, unrealistic ideas and standards should be released from older individuals. Second, older people should be provided with the social services they need to allow them to thrive and be more healthy. Lastly, allow older individuals to have more control over their lives. This theory best applies to Sara as that she may feel stifled and judged as she is a widow who lives with her adult daughter, does not work, and suffers from some mental health struggles. Sara should not feel pressure at this stage in her life to fit into a societal standard. Sara would also benefit from more services to allow her to thrive and bring more happiness into her life. Although Sara attends a day treatment program for adults several times per week, she would benefit from other outlets that may provide opportunities for creativity and physical activity. These types of services and activities can provide a consistent routine for Sara and may assist with the hoarding behavior and decrease the conflict with her daughters. 


Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., Brocksen S. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories: Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader] “The Parker Family.” (pp.6-8)

Zastrow, C.H., & Kirst-Ashman, K.K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.) Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

 Ashley Burk RE: Discussion – Week 7COLLAPSE

Hello Everyone,

            Sara is a seventy-two-year-old, Caucasian female, living with her daughter, Stephanie, and their six cats.  She has been widowed for several years, but there are some maladaptive coping behaviors present like hoarding (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014).  The death of Sara’s husband had a profound effect on her relationships with her daughters and her psychological well-being.  Sara’s life-satisfaction is in flux, and she has a diagnosis of depression, both of these can have a significant impact on how an individual in late adulthood approaches relationships and their physical well-being (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014; Zastrow, & Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  Sara seems to have issues with processing her grief constructively and has backed away from existing relationships with her family and friends and building new relationships with peers at her day program which is leading to isolation and loneliness (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014; Zastrow, & Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  Another life event which is influencing Sara’s relationships is the increasing hostility between Sara and Stephanie.  Sara indicates she feels Stephanie is unreasonable for wanting to throw Sara’s things out which contribute to the clutter and hoarding (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014).  While Sara has a history of hoarding tendencies, they have gotten worse since the death of her husband, and this has led to the deterioration of her familial support network (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014). 

            As Sara’s social worker, I would apply the social reconstruction syndrome theory.  This theory postulates there is a need for a shift in how society views and labels older adults (Zastrow, & Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  Sara is fulfilling the labels and diagnoses which her children and psychiatrist have given her.  While the diagnoses are needed to help Sara effectively, the expectation that Sara enjoys her clutter and does not want to have better relationships with her family is unfair and detrimental to her self-concept.  One of the suggestions for advancing social reconstruction syndrome theory is to ensure older adults are receiving the social services they need (Zastrow, & Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  Sara is receiving assistance for her hoarding behavior and in the process encouraging a more open dialogue with her family which is helping rebuild these relationships (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014).  Sara’s social worker needs to listen to Sara’s discontent with her current day program and explore why she feels she is not receiving what she needs from the program.  Helping Sara feel more satisfaction in her social activities will encourage a more rewarding aging process.  Maintaining Sara’s ability to control her life is vital for both the social worker’s ethical responsibilities but also so Sara can feel that she determines her life course.  This is an essential aspect of social work and social reconstruction syndrome theory.  Sara needs to have a say in her living arrangements and social decisions so she can feel fulfilled in late adulthood. 

Ashley Burk


Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies: Foundation year. Baltimore: MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].

Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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