A national cohort study of spiritual and religious practices of older people with intellectual disability

J Intellect Disabil. 2023 Mar 23:17446295231163977. doi: 10.1177/17446295231163977. Online ahead of print.


Background: Spirituality and spiritual support for older people with intellectual disability are deemed important, however little is known about their specific needs. This paper reports for the first time on the religious and spiritual practices of older adults with intellectual disability. Methods: A national longitudinal study examined the prevalence of spiritual practices among older people with intellectual disability in the Republic of Ireland. Results: Older people with intellectual disability seek and receive solace from religious and spiritual practices, especially if they are lonely, in poor health, distressed or bereaved. There is likely a social benefit to spiritual and religious aspects of life that would be beneficial to explore further. Conclusions: Globally more research is required and efforts should be made to ensure greater opportunities for inclusion in societal spiritual and religious activities and to more clearly determine the spiritual needs of this population.

Keywords: health; intellectual disability; older people; spirituality.