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Studies have suggested that people tend to become more spiritual with growing age (especially after 68). Their faith in God increases when they enter the golden era of their lifecycle. There can be numerous reasons that result in the inclination of older adults towards spirituality and faith.
What are the Issues & Challenges?
The word spiritual is derived from 'spiritus' which in Latin means soul. Our faith forms our inner core as individuals enter different stages of life, their intent of faith and belief changes. Some of these reasons are discussed below:
Loss of a spouse or other near and dear ones is one of the most significant reasons for an increase in faith among older adults. Besides grief, sorrow, and stress, the life partner's death brings emptiness in an individual's life.
Redefining our life's purpose
Most older adults are retired people whose kids are settled and are happy in their lives. The challenge of preparing oneself for this new stage of life where there is no hustle to earn more money or worry about kid's education and career results in depression among older adults.
Furthermore, many older adults start looking for answers to questions, including What is their new role? As a retiree, what is the purpose of their life? Faith and spiritual sessions help older people in finding answers to such questions.
A decline in physical or mental health
Some older adults have to depend on others for one or another task because of health issues. Loss of independence or inability to carry out simple daily chores might produce a feeling of anger, irritation, and frustration.
A time to review life
Irrespective of how comfortable we are in our golden era of life, we do engage ourselves in reading our book of life once again. We start analyzing our lives and try to find whether we have lived in the right way or not. We start measuring our life in terms of successes, failures, or regrets. If the answers are not satisfying, we might regret the decisions taken and feel sorry for ourselves. Role of Faith in Aging for Older Adults. Faith in later stages of life is known to have numerous health benefits.
Increases the ability to cope with disability and illness. It helps in determining life's purpose and meaning. This further helps in improving relationships. It helps in overcoming negativity and gives a positive hope about existing health conditions.
Physical health benefits:
Being a part of a religious community keeps older people physically active. It allows older people to move out of their house and keep themselves engaged in community services. Similarly, being a part of a yoga/meditation group keeps older adults physically fit and active.
Another importance of faith groups is that it develops a strong sense of community. People bond with each other through their faith and shared beliefs. Being socially active helps older adults in overcoming the feeling of depression and loneliness. Older people find solace in their faith groups during stressful situations like the death of a loved one.
Some communities also conduct field trips that involve playing with pets or help them in adopting pets. Hence, if you are a pet lover it’s better to look for retirement villages for pet owners. A pet can be your best friend during the golden era of your life.
Implementing Spiritually Inspired Aging
Spiritual practices are broadly categorized under three categories- Relationships, faith rituals, and reflection. Some of the activities that can help older adults age spiritually are:
This involves discussing the spiritual or religious events taken place in the life of older people. This increases the faith in individuals and helps them develop new relationships with other people in the group. These relationships are based on their faith and beliefs.
Going back and reviewing all the critical incidents of life tend to increase confidence and enhance individual capabilities, which became dormant over time.
Studies have shown that music can be beneficial in improving the emotional and mental health of an individual. Participating in the choir would involve learning lyrics, which would help in enhancing memory. Participating in reminiscence and choir would help reduce depression and improve the overall wellbeing of older people by meeting their spiritual needs.
Regular practice of cultural rituals, praying, and worshipping helps in maintaining memory and wellbeing in older adults. It gives them a feeling of belongingness with their family, as well as the community. Regular meditation and praying tend to increase spiritual development. Hence joining a meditation or a prayer group can help older people meet their spiritual needs.
How Caring Communities Help?
Nowadays, most of the Assisted Living Communities understand the importance of developing faith among elderly people. Caring communities create faith groups and organize various faith-based activities like meditating sessions, yoga sessions, creating a choir group, etc. for older people.