Monday, December 19, 2011
Older Adult Religion and Spirituality (Research, Hospice Nurse Video 2:51)
Are most religious older adults spiritual? Are the most spiritual ones religious? Topics related to spirituality and religion can get very personal. That’s why many people avoid them. As hospice volunteers, we are advised not to impose our personal religious or spiritual beliefs on patients. Some people have daily spiritual experiences that are a core part of their lives. At the same time, they may have varying levels of praying or attending formal religious services.
When older adults come together and live in a community, they bring all their varied personal religious and spiritual beliefs and practices, including no beliefs and practices. Rush University Medical Center researchers studied the levels of daily spiritual experiences of 6,534 older adults living in biracial communities. These are the reported results of that study:
1) Most participants had daily spiritual experiences. African Americans and women had more than Whites and men.
2) Prayer and worship were moderately connected with daily spiritual experiences.
3) African American race, older age, female gender, better self-rated health, and greater social networks were associated with higher daily spiritual experiences scores. Higher levels of education and depressive symptoms were associated with lower daily spiritual experiences scores.
Overall, these findings are consistent with other research findings on religion and spirituality in the lives of older adults.
In this video titled I Wanna Go, hospice nurse Mary Peakes sings an afterlife spiritual song at the family’s request for patient Pamela Rucker. Ms. Rucker died from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, four days later after peaceful closure with family members. Her daughter stated, “My life will be okay if I know she is waiting for me at the end of it. I want to thank all the hospice nurses. I am so grateful for these angels who helped my mother and her family through this difficult time.”
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.