Waiting for God

Spiritual Needs at End of Life

Religion and spirituality become more important as we near the end of life.  It offers propose and provides a framework from which life, and end of life, take on new meaning. 

There are many benefits that religion offers to those who belief.  Religious people live longer and have improved physical and mental health.  Studies have shown that there are several aspects of life that belief in religion improves: Psychological, health promoting, and social interaction.

Psychological

Religiosity goes in hand with a positive and more hopeful attitude, a great sense of purpose and meaning, and an increased ability to cope with illness and disability.  This is quite helpful when life is ending and all of the above suddenly apply.  

Health-promoting practices

Involvement within a faith community correlates with better maintained physical health.  There are several factors for this.  Many faith communities preach abstaining from deleterious substances such as drugs, tobacco and alcohol.  This generally creates a healthier group with longer life expectancy.  

Social benefits

Faith communities are communities, which means a social group.  Religious practices foster community development and broader social networks.  This increases social contact, which is of particular importance for seniors.    Older people who have such a community are less likely to neglect themselves. 

It should be noted that sometimes religion is not helpful but induces anxiety and feelings of guilt and shame.  Some religious practices promote inflexibility. In such cases, religion can cause more harm than good.  

Click here to see what different religions believe about life after death.

End-of-Life Spirituality Needs Unmet

Despite the fact that spirituality and religion becomes more important as we age, there is still a big gap between what is needed and what is provided to those at the end of their lives.  Their interests increase, but there is a tendency to not speak up.  It is, therefore, important to discuss your dependent senior’s needs.  Be as open and supportive as possible.   Perhaps a weekly discussion with a religious leader would be helpful. 

References:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-70139-0_26

https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/professional/geriatrics/social-issues-in-older-adults/religion-and-spirituality-in-older-adults

https://research.thea.ie/bitstream/handle/20.500.12065/3290/Spirituality%20and%20caring%20for%20the%20older%20person..pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/913247/