Preparing for the LCSW Exam and MFT Exam: Abuse & Neglect of Elderly & Dependent Clients

By Bethany Vanderbilt on January 25, 2012

It’s Hot Topics Tuesday!  We’re going to continue the LCSW/MFT Exam Hot Topics Blog with a review of Abuse and Neglect of Elderly/Dependent clients.


Here’s how it might show up in a test item:

Sample Question:

A hospital social worker is called to the emergency room and asked to evaluate an 82 year-old woman who was found wandering on the street and picked up by paramedics.  She is disoriented and talking rapidly about her son.  Paramedics tell the social worker that the woman was “paranoid” and “begging” not to be taken home when they questioned her.  What should the social worker do NEXT?

A. Contact the woman’s caregivers to alert them of her situation

B. Evaluate the woman for additional signs of elder abuse

C. Recommend antipsychotic medication to address the woman’s paranoia

D. Refer the woman to an adult day health center to prevent future wandering incidents

According to the Social Work Dictionary, elder abuse is defined as“ Mistreatment of older people and relatively dependent people, including physical battering, neglect, financial or other exploitation, and psychological harm.  Abuse may be inflicted by the older person’s adult children or other relatives, legal custodians, or other care providers,”(Barker, 2003). As therapists we would be looking for physical symptoms, like bruises, welts, or unexplained genital infections; psychological symptoms, like unexplained weight loss, depression, paranoia, or confusion/disorientation; and financial symptoms, like hunger, unexplained inability to pay utility bills, or overinvolvement of caregivers in financial affairs.


In this case, the best answer is B, since the woman is displaying several indicators of possible elder abuse; A would breach the woman’s right to confidentiality, C is outside the scope of practice for a social worker and D goes too quickly to action without knowing more about the problem.   Think our Top 50 Topics could help YOU pass the exam?  Check out the “LCSW Exam Prep” and “MFT Exam Prep” pages on our website to find out more about our workshops and study materials.  Our goal is to provide exam prep services and materials at an affordable cost – we want you to actually USE what you pay for!

Coming up next week: Domestic Violence.

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you're preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you're preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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