In social work practice, the strengths perspective “has emerged as an alternative to the more common pathology-oriented approach to helping clients. Instead of focusing on clients’ problems and deficits, the strengths perspective centers on clients’ abilities, talents, and resources” (Kim, 2008). The strengths-based perspective focuses on emphasizing that every person has a strength. A strength can be the smallest ability that not even the client will realize until it is pointed out to them. Dealing with the elderly population, it is important that professional social workers help them realize that they have strengths even being at an old age.
“Old age is a challenging period in people’s lives that often include sudden and multiple losses and unforeseen physical, emotional, social, and spiritual assaults to their person. Conventional gerontological assessments collect deficit-focused data such as an older person’s dependencies, disabilities, risk factors for nursing home placement, available informal support, and so forth” (Langer, 2004, pg. 611). The many challenges that the elderly face, it is only right that their positive accomplishments are acknowledged.
A main concept of the strengths perspective is perseverance. Perseverance “is the act of persistence despite adversity or discouragement” (Langer, 2004, pg. 612). This concept relates to elder financial abuse. The elderly need to preserve their situation. The elderly might receive discouragement from family members on not reporting the abuse. When the elderly do not report they suffer the abuse, in which they should not. If the elderly, do report the abuse, they face adversity because authority figures do not take them seriously which leads to the case being dropped. Elderly victims should not feel discouraged when going through this situation. When elderly victims reach the stage of perseverance they become self-reliance. Self-reliance “is the belief in one-self and one’s capabilities” (Langer, 2004, pg. 612). This is what the strengths perspective is about, building on that one strength to overcome and reach a stage of resilience. It is all up to the victim to reach these stages but with professional social workers using the strengths perspective, it will be accomplished.
Applying the strengths-based perspective to elder financial abuse, can help the victims overcome. The perspective can help explain the origin of the problem by the perception that elderly victims believe that they have no strengths, believe that they will not overcome this, and believe that no one is there to help. All of these reasons contribute to the lack of awareness on elder financial abuse. The strengths-based perspective can not only bring about awareness but encourage elderly victims to recognize their worth. Encouraging the victims, bringing awareness, and advocating all connect with using the strengths-based perspective as possible solutions. With professional social workers, advocating on their behalf and helping them reach a stage of resilience this social problem can soon become an issue of the past.