Lowy-GEM Program in Aging

A Unique Program in Gerontological Social Work

Boston University School of Social Work offers The Lowy-GEM (Geriatric Education Model) Program in Aging, a comprehensive, master’s-level social work training program with stipends. The program prepares MSW students to meet the unique needs of older adults, their families, and the organizations that serve them. Hear what Lowy-GEM students are saying about the program.

Did You Know?

    • In 2000 there were 35 million people over age 65 living in the United States, representing 12% of the overall population.
    • By 2010 there were 40 million people over 65 living in the United States, representing 13% of the overall population.
    • It is predicted that by 2030 the number will rise to 72 million, which will represent 20% of the overall population.

    The demand for skilled clinical and macro social workers who are trained to work with older adults, their families, their caregivers, and the agencies that serve them will continue to increase exponentially as the number of older adults increases. The Lowy-GEM Program in Aging was developed in 2001 in response to changing US demographics. Participating students are placed in a wide range of aging settings, and graduates are employed across New England and the United States, with many serving in supervisory and other leadership positions.

      Gerontological Social Workers

        Gerontological social workers:

        • Hold positions in mental health, health, home care, long-term care, family service, multiservice, senior centers, councils on aging, PACE programs, housing, hospitals, hospice, planning, advocacy, government, and research settings.
        • Provide individual and group psychotherapy, family therapy, case management, advocacy, community organizing, program development, research, and management services.
        • Work with/on behalf of older adults, their families, caregivers, and providers across multiple agencies and settings that provide services to  older adults.

        Lowy-GEM Program Components

        • Stipends for participating students provided by the Louis Lowy Fund in Gerontology and Social Welfare Policy
        • Participants can be full-time or part-time students, clinical or macro majors
        • One-year option suitable for foundation or advanced-year students
        • Two-year option available for students who begin the program in the foundation year with an advanced leadership project in the second year
        • A monthly seminar on topics related to social work with older adults, taught at BUSSW and at the participating field agencies
        • Field placement model consisting of a primary placement in one of the participating field agencies and a concurrent enrichment experience in a second field agency, allowing participants to experience two agencies serving older adults and their families
        • Ongoing professional development programs throughout the students’ two to four years at BUSSW
        • The opportunity to earn the Louis Lowy Certificate in Gerontological Social Work
        • Post-MSW career guidance and mentorship from participating field instructors and program alumni

          This required monthly seminar takes place on one Friday each month, 2–4 p.m. Most sessions are held in Conant Lounge at BUSSW, though some are held at agencies. Students must arrange their schedules to attend all sessions. Field instructors are encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible.

          Seminars 2013–2014
          9/20 2–3 p.m. | Orientation to the Lowy-GEM Program in Aging
          Program Faculty and Field Instructors3–4 p.m. | Directions in the Field of Aging
          Ann Hartstein, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs
          Conant Lounge
          10/25 Health Literacy in Older Clients
          Dan Oates, MD, Director, Geriatrics and Extended Care, Granite Medical Group
          Conant Lounge
          11/15 Protecting Vulnerable Older Adults: Law and Social Work Practice
          Donald Freedman, attorney specializing in disability and elder lawJudith Lyons, Asst. District Attorney, Suffolk County DA’s Office, specializing in elder abuse
          Marsha Frankel, JF&CS (elder bullying)Sgt. Kathleen Murphy, Cambridge Police Dept., Community Officer working with elders
          Conant Lounge
          12/13 Death and Dying
          Stephanie Recchia, former Director of Social Work, Sherrill House, and current BUSSW faculty advisorCindy Adams, current Director of Social Work at Sherrill House and former hospice worker
          Sherrill House
          1/10 Hoarding in Older Populations
          Sarah Dowal, The BUSSW Hoarding Project
          Conant Lounge
          2/14 Serving the Aging LGBT Community
          Lisa Krinsky and Bob Linscott, The LGBT Aging Project
          Conant Lounge
          3/21 Aging and Wellness: Evidence-Based Programs for Healthy Aging
          Jennifer Raymond, Hebrew Senior Life
          Hebrew Senior Life
          4/18 Celebration
          Lowy-GEM Graduation, presentation of certificates, student presentations, and program review
          Conant Lounge


          Lowy-GEM Program Agencies 2013–2014

          Lowy-GEM Students are placed in a wide range of clinical and macro field placements, representing  the scope of services available to older adults in the greater Boston area and beyond.


          Beacon Hill Villages A member-driven organization for Boston residents age 50 and over, providing programs and services so members can lead vibrant, active, and healthy lives while living in their own homes and neighborhoods
          Bedford VA GRECC Program Provides multiple programs and services to aging veterans and their families
          Boston Medical Center Memory Unit Hospital-based outpatient clinic providing diagnosis, treatment, and supportive services to clients and families dealing with cognitive impairment and memory loss
          Brookline Council on Aging A town agency responsible for planning, coordinating, and providing comprehensive services for Brookline residents age 60 and over
          CADER: Center for Aging and Disabilities Education and Research Boston University’s nationally recognized policy, training, and research institute, providing innovative training opportunities for practicing social workers and other professionals to meet the needs of the growing population of older adults and their families
          Center Communities of Brookline Hebrew Senior Life Retirement Community providing supportive services and wellness programs to residents
          Dana Farber Cancer Center Outpatient hospital setting providing diagnosis and treatment to cancer patients and supportive services to patients and their families
          East Boston Neighborhood Health Plan A PACE Day Health Program providing coordinated health and social services to frail elders living in the community
          Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley
          A private nonprofit agency serving residents living in the Merrimack Valley; the mission of the agency is to ensure that choices of programs and services are available to meet the diverse needs and changing lifestyles of older adults.
          Executive Office of Elder Affairs Provides services locally via Aging Services Access Points (ASAP), Councils on Aging (COAs), and senior centers in communities across the Commonwealth. This network reaches out to elders in need of services that include home care and caregiver support, nutrition programs, protective services, health and wellness services, housing options, and SHINE counseling.
          German Center Originally planned as a retirement residence for elderly German Americans, the organization now serves persons of any nationality, race, or religion who have need of a full range of elder services.
          Hearth–Home for Good An agency providing outreach, housing, and social services to formerly homeless elders and those at risk for homelessness. Hearth offers independent and assisted-living options throughout Boston.
          Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly (JCHE) Independent housing for older adults, and social and health services are provided on site to a diverse population of long-term community residents and new immigrants.
          McLean Hospital Geriatric Services Inpatient and outpatient services providing comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for individuals, age 50 and older, who are experiencing emotional, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms.
          Mt. Auburn Hospital Geriatric Psychiatry Dept. Offers a full range of geriatric psychiatric services, including acute inpatient as well as outpatient treatment for patients and their families
          Mt. Auburn Hospital Oncology Dept.
          Provides diagnosis and treatment to cancer patients and supportive services to patients and their families
          Orchard Cove Hebrew Senior Life Retirement Community providing independent living, assisted living, and nursing care services to older adults
          Paine Senior Services Located in Cambridge, Paine Senior Services provides the necessary supports and services to help older Cambridge residents manage safely at home.
          Seasons Hospice Hospice and palliative care services for terminally ill patients and their families
          Sherrill House An independent, not-for-profit, skilled nursing and rehabilitation center located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston
          Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services Community agency offering older people, younger people with disabilities, and caregivers the information, services, and support needed to make choices that enhance health, well-being, and independence
          Tenants Development Corporation Provides affordable housing and supportive services to residents of Boston’s South End
          Upham’s Corner Elder Service Plan A PACE Day Health Program providing coordinated health and social services to frail elders living in the community.

          MSW students interested in working with older adults and engaging in social programming and policy for the aged population are eligible to receive the Louis Lowy Certificate in Gerontological Social Work from the School. To receive the certificate, students must complete 16 credits related to aging, 8 of which must be specifically devoted to aging-related issues, and the remainder of which may be drawn from courses and assignments that are directed to elderly issues. Both classroom and field education credits may be included.

          Application for the Louis Lowy Certificate in Gerontological Social Work

          • Lowy-GEM students complete the Hartford Partnership in Aging Education (HPPAE) Competencies in Aging at the beginning and end of the program.
          • As they complete the program, each Lowy-GEM student completes an exit questionnaire evaluating their experience in the program.
          • Each Lowy-GEM student writes a brief reflection piece relating to their experience in the program to present at the last session of the monthly Lowy-GEM Seminar.

          2013–2014 Student Reflections

          For more information contact:

          Reeve Goldhaber at 617-353-7009 or at reeve@bu.edu.