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What are the Differences Between Social Workers, Care Managers, and Caregivers?

While many are familiar with social workers, care managers, and caregivers within long-term care, there are still a number of people who don’t know the difference between the three. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help differentiate them and show that while they all play a major role in long-term care, each of them does something very specific to help older adults and their care needs.

Social Workers

Geriatric social workers help the 65+ population by making sure they’re fed, cared for, and protected from circumstances that leave them vulnerable. They act as advocates and can bring attention to socioeconomic and other major issues that are affecting older adults’ livelihoods.

With geriatric social workers, much of their time is spent collaborating with older adults to identify short and long-term goals (not just with health) and creating plans and interventions to achieve those. These plans can include things like:

  • Finding resources for more social interaction
  • Identifying financial aid and services
  • Discussing strategies and resources for behavioral wellness
  • Reassessing mobility and creating strategies to accommodate new changes

Because the work that a geriatric social worker does is broad, older adults can turn to them to find assistance for many other areas in their lives — not just health needs.

Care Managers

A care manager can be considered a facilitator of information for their patients when they’re dealing with physicians and receiving medical treatments. They’re a vital part of the care process for older adults because they help:

  • Coordinate care for patients
  • Serve as patients’ advocates and cheer them on
  • Connect patients with resources for continuity of care
  • Develop care plans, Help monitor drug compliance
  • And much more!

A huge part of their job is building relationships with patients. Doing this ensures that patients comply with getting the care they need, trust their physicians, and achieve their goals. This relationship-building factor is also a significant reason why care managers and caregivers can work alongside each other when handling complex issues, emotional support, and more.


Caregivers provide continuous support to older adults who aren’t able to take care of themselves as well as they would like. Their care, which usually happens at home or at a facility, includes assisting with daily routines, providing compassion and empathy, and ensuring that an older adult is keeping up with health requirements or treatments as prescribed by their medical professional.

The main difference here is that caregivers don’t have to be licensed professionals. They can also be family members, your children, relatives or friends, or even a neighbor. This means there is a lot of versatility with who can be your caregiver as long as they are providing immaculate care and are helping you with all your health needs.

Additional Resources

How Geriatric Care Managers can Help Caregivers

When to Hire a Geriatric Care Manager

Social Services for Older Adults


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