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Spirituality, Religion, and Aging
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Spirituality, Religion, and Aging
Illuminations for Therapeutic Practice



February 2017 | 488 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This highly integrative book was written for students, professionals in aging, ministers, and older adults themselves. Readers will gain the knowledge and skills they need to assess, engage, and address the spiritual and religious needs of older persons.  Taking a fresh approach that breaks new ground in the field, the author discusses eight major world religions and covers values and ethics, theories, interventions, health and caregiving, depression and anxiety, dementia, and the end of life. Meditations and exercises throughout the book allow readers to expand and explore their personal understanding of spirituality. Referencing the latest research, the book includes assessments and skill-based tools designed to help practitioners enhance the mental health of older people.   

 
Foreword
 
Preface
 
About the Author
 
Invitation
 
PART I • PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION FOR GERONTOLOGICAL PRACTICE
 
Chapter 1 • The Importance of Spirituality and Religion for Gerontology
Aging in a Postmodern Time

 
Practical and Orienting Definitions

 
Portrait of Religion and Aging in the United States

 
The Demographics of Old Age

 
Intersectionalities Among Spirituality, Gender Identity, and Older Age

 
A Brief History of Spirituality Across Disciplines

 
Assumptions About Religion and Spirituality

 
The Legacy of Aging in Modern Times

 
New Directions

 
Clinical Aspects of Later-Life Spiritual Journeys

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Introduction to Meditation Exercises

 
Meditation: Breath

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Introduction

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Basic Questions

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Connect With Nature

 
Websites

 
 
Chapter 2 • Defining Religion and Spirituality: Professional and Practical Philosophies
Shifting Foundations

 
Religion and Spirituality: What Do They Mean?

 
Who or What Is God?

 
Professional Definitions of Religion

 
Background of Spirituality and Its Relevance for Aging

 
Other Aspects: Existential Well-Being, Spiritual Well-Being, Spiritual Suffering, and Spiritual Care

 
Spirituality, Standards of Care, and the Professions

 
Summary

 
Case Study: Spiritual Suffering and Spiritual Crisis

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Relaxation, Also Known as Body Scan

 
Assignment: Interview an Older Adult

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Objects of Meaning and Memory

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 3 • Values and Ethics With Older Adults
Empathy, Compassion, or Sympathy

 
Virtue Ethics

 
Religion and Ethics

 
Spiritual and Existentialist/Humanist Ethics

 
Nonviolence and Interreligious Harmony

 
Ethical Theory for Practice in Brief

 
Value Dimensions for Practice

 
Boundaries in Ethical Practice

 
End-of-Life Ethics

 
End-of-Life Case

 
Intergenerational Ethics

 
The Rights of Older Adults

 
Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging, 2002 and Beyond

 
Generosity, Spiritual Wealth, and Service

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Changing of the Seasons

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Spiritual-Ethical Will

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Vision

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Scent

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 4 • Religion and Spirituality in Theory
Why Does Theory Matter?

 
Social Gerontology Perspectives and Theories

 
Theories of Individual Behavior

 
Developmental and Transpersonal Theorists

 
Humanism

 
Transpersonal Psychology

 
Theories of Positive Aging, Successful Aging, and Strengths

 
Theory Integration

 
Summary

 
Case Study: Letha Bainbridge

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: The Tree That Was Planted the Day You Were Born

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Developing a Spiritual History

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Defining a Peak Experience

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 5 • Religion and Older Adults
Judaism

 
Christianity

 
American Indian Religion/Spirituality

 
Islam

 
Hinduism

 
Buddhism

 
Confucianism

 
Daoism

 
Integration of Religious Philosophies and Aging

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Assignment: Framing the Landscape of Religious Ritual

 
Assignment: Sacred Spaces Exercise

 
Meditation: Present Moment Awareness

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Rhythm and Movement

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Pilgrimage

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
PART II • PRACTICE DIMENSIONS OF SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION IN AGING
 
Chapter 6 • Spirituality and Religion in Clinical Assessment
What’s Important About Religion and Assessment?

 
Mental Health Assessment

 
The Clinical Assessment Process With Spirituality

 
Clinical Assessment Protocols

 
Rapid Assessment Instrument Protocols

 
Spiritual Distress Assessment

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Focused Attention

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Discernment

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Emotional Mindfulness

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Composition of the Place

 
Website

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 7 • Religious and Spiritual Interventions With Clients
Section 1: Philosophical Approaches to Therapy With Older People

 
Section 2: Mid-Range Interventions of Care

 
Section 3: Micro-Level Individual Spiritual Care Activities

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Bringing Yourself Together

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: The Labyrinth

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Building Intentional Spiritual Places

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 8 • Spirituality, Religion, and Health
Definitions of Health

 
Aging and the Body: Failing Health

 
Historical Views on Religion and Health

 
From Holistic Historical Renderings to Modern Cultural Health Considerations

 
Suffering

 
Views of Health From Religious Perspectives

 
Research on the Intersections Between Religion and Health

 
Caregiving

 
Prayers, Rituals, and Symbols

 
Hope, Meaning/Purpose, and Mental Health

 
Summary

 
Case Study: Health and Spirituality

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Taste

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Touch

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Taste and Savoring

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 9 • Spirituality in Emotion, Depression, and Anxiety
Emotions and Their Meaning

 
Emotion and the Sacred

 
Indicators and Etiology of Depression

 
Depression Types

 
Depression as Cultural Marker

 
Epidemiology

 
Eudaimonia

 
Other Depression-Like States: Demoralization, Desolation and the Dark Night of the Soul, and Despair

 
Research Related to Depression and Religion

 
Interventions

 
Spiritual Interventions and Depression/Desolation

 
Anxiety

 
Anxiety Interventions

 
Summary

 
Case Study: Depression and Spirituality

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Self-Compassion With Movement

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Regret

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Fighting Fear

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Gratitude

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 10 • Memory, Dementia, and Spiritual Care
Memory and Growing Older

 
Types of Dementia and Behavioral Indicators

 
Delirium, Depression, Thyroid, Vitamin Deficiencies, Alcoholism, and Other Temporary Causes of Dementia

 
Prevalence of Dementia

 
Disclosure of AD and Related Dementia: A Counseling Concern

 
Another Perspective on Dementia

 
Spirituality and the Self

 
Understanding Need-Driven, Dementia-Compromised Behavior

 
Literature Related to Spiritual Aspects of Dementia and Dementia Care Practice

 
Religious and Spiritual Practice Principles for the Person With Dementia

 
Arts-Based Interventions

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Walking

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Sound

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Tonglen Practice to Increase Compassion

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading: Information for Professionals

 
Recommended Reading: Memoirs on Dementia

 
 
Chapter 11 • Spirituality at the End of Life
The Nature of Dying

 
Spirituality at the End of Life: Historical Context

 
Older Adults in Hospice Care

 
Modern Palliative and Hospice Care

 
National Consensus Project Guidelines

 
A Spiritual Care Model

 
Spiritual Care at the End of Life: Spiritual Practices

 
Communication at the End of Life

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Assignment: Spirituality, Religion, and Loss

 
Meditation: Refreshing the Senses

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Creating Your Own Obituary— An Opportunity for Reflection

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Plan Your Memorial or Funeral Service

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: A Meeting With Death

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 12 • Integration
Integration of Religion and Spirituality With Professional Practice

 
Functions of Religion

 
Trends in Spirituality

 
A Practical Philosophy or Practical Theology

 
Spiritual Orientation Dissimilarity Between Client and Practitioner

 
Working With Spiritual Unease and Distress in Disasters

 
Evaluation

 
Interprofessional Practice and Spirituality

 
Self-Care and Mindfulness: Spiritual Awareness

 
Contemplative Practices for Renewal

 
Self-Compassion

 
A Personal Note on the Challenge of Spiritual Integration

 
Summary

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Meditation: Color

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Balance and Equipoise

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Self-Integration

 
Websites

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Chapter 13 • Lessons for Building Spiritual Resilience and Epilogue
Section 1: Lessons For Building Resilience

 
Section 2: Epilogue

 
Benediction

 
Parting Thoughts

 
Questions for Discussion

 
Assignment: Visioning

 
Meditation: A Meditation With Music—The Great Bell Chant

 
Meditation: A Meditation With Movement—Five Ages Dancing

 
Meditation: A Meditation Using Hands or Fingers

 
Meditation: MBSR Mindfulness Eight-Week Course

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Working With Light

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Participation and Reciprocity

 
Exploring Your Spirituality: Laughter and Joy

 
Website

 
Recommended Reading

 
 
Appendix: Older Adult Definitions
 
References
 
Index

"Professor Holly Nelson-Becker’s groundbreaking book provides a holistic framework of knowledge, values, and clinical practices that promote gerontological practitioners’ comfort and competence to address spirituality and religion. Her subtitle key word ‘illuminations’ is apropos. Nelson-Becker deftly integrates understandings from social work, nursing, psychology, counseling, health sciences, chaplaincy, and other fields to craft an interdisciplinary approach that is sensitive to the vulnerabilities and strengths of aging and dying that reveal, as she said, “openings for light.” She synergizes profound insights with practical daily life realities. She presents these insights with scientific acumen and poetic sensibility. All of this is supported by her extensive experience as a clinician, researcher, educator, and pastoral minister. The resulting approach to gerontological practice respects diverse religious and nonreligious expressions of clients’ spiritual journeys and supports the professional and spiritual growth of clinicians. I enthusiastically recommend this book."

Edward R. Canda, Director of the Spiritual Diversity Initiative
The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare

"Religion and spirituality play an important role in the lives of older adults. This book will be an important resource to aid helping professionals to become more aware of this fact and integrate this awareness in their work. The book will also be helpful to clergy and chaplains who frequently provide care to older adults and their loved one but rarely have any training in gerontology. The book includes helpful discussions of important topics including spiritual assessment, care for those with dementia and care at the end of life."

George Fitchett
Rush University Medical Center

“Spirituality is a vital part of aging and this book is a comprehensive resource providing both theoretical and clinical insight to understand the complex aspects of spirituality for older people. The text is an outstanding guide for all disciplines.”

Betty Ferrell
City of Hope Medical Center

"In this essential and insightful book for our times, Holly Nelson-Becker draws upon current research and scholarship regarding spirituality, religion, and aging from a range of disciplines and shares stories, examples, and anecdotes from her own work with older adults and their families. Readers will appreciate this approach of bringing together findings from scientific research and insights from practice and presenting them in an easy to understand language and style.  One of the key strengths of this book is its accessibility and applicability for practitioners.  Although high-quality research is being conducted and published, oftentimes this work is not reaching health practitioners, social workers, and therapists who are serving older adults and their caregivers. This book has the potential to connect research and practice audiences around these important topics.   

Given the continuing increase in the population of older adults from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds and the spiritual and religious challenges they experience, the book includes a continuing discussion of diverse faith traditions and their implications for mental health practitioners. Another important strength of the book is its emphasis on active learning. Each chapter includes discussion questions, meditation exercises, spiritual exercises, and case studies aimed at engaging readers in using what they are learning. Internet and other resources are also included to help interested readers in obtaining additional information on topics of their interest. These pedagogical features further contribute to the books’ overall goal of preparing students and health care providers to address psychological and spiritual needs of older people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  This text is a timely and relevant contribution to the growing body of work on spirituality, religion, and aging that has the potential to further knowledge, have meaningful impact for multiple audiences, and ultimately improve the lives of older adults."

Chandra M. Mehrotra, PhD
The College of St. Scholastica

Occasionally, I read a book that illustrates what can happen when clinical experience meets research and scholarship meets compassion and wisdom.  When these all come together, you have a work that appeals to practitioners, educators, students, and those we seek to serve. Each of the chapters could stand alone as a journal article—taken together, they provide a blueprint for spirituality in older adults.

Stanley G. McCracken, Ph.D., LCSW, RDDP
The University of Chicago
Key features

 KEY FEATURES: 

  • An integrated, interdisciplinary approach prepares future mental health professionals to work on teams and bring the best of their disciplinary knowledge to contexts of transdisciplinary practice.
  • A standard chapter format helps readers develop a deeper understanding of spirituality and religion in aging and includes questions for discussion; a suggested meditation; exercises; related websites; and recommended readings.
  • Important core information on aging includes necessary foundational gerontological content and the latest concepts and published research in spirituality and religion within aging communities.
  • Seven fully developed case studies help students consider important issues in working with clients’ spiritual and religious beliefs, values, and practices.
  • Detailed examples of clinical strategies prepare mental health professionals to support personal strengths and help clients cope with spiritual struggles.

 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1


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