Integrating spirituality into the care of older adults

Int Psychogeriatr. 2019 Jan;31(1):31-38. doi: 10.1017/S1041610218000716. Epub 2018 Jul 10.


ABSTRACTWe examine how to sensibly integrate spirituality into the care of older adult medical and psychiatric patients from a multi-cultural perspective. First, definitions of spirituality and spiritual integration are provided. Second, we examine the logic that justifies spiritual integration, including research that demonstrates an association between religious/spiritual (R/S) involvement and health in older adults and research that indicates widespread spiritual needs in later life and the consequences of addressing or ignoring them. Third, we describe how and when to integrate spirituality into the care of older adults, i.e. taking a spiritual history to identify spiritual needs and then mobilizing resources to meet those needs. Fourth, we examine the consequences of integrating spirituality on the well-being of patients and on the doctor-patient relationship. Finally, we describe boundaries in addressing R/S issues that clinicians should be cautious about violating. Resources will be provided to assist with all of the above.

Keywords: integration; mental healthcare; multi-cultural; older adults; religion; research; spiritual history; spiritual needs; spirituality.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Spirituality*