As the life-expectancy of the population rises, so does the interest in the role of spirituality in their lives. A survey from the Pew Research Center shows religion is considered very important among adults age 65+. Though important, spirituality has a different meaning to different people, including caregivers and their patients or family members.
What is Spirituality?
When people think of spirituality, normally the first thing that comes to mind is a single specific religion. However, the definition of spirituality is much more than a religion; it ranges from a specific religious belief to anything which provides meaning in life. Spirituality is more of an eclectic mix of beliefs and practices contributing to overall mental health and well-being.
Does Spirituality Help?
Caregivers understand helping on a physical level, but they also have the opportunity to help fulfill the mental needs of the one they care for. Spirituality helps by giving people hope, comfort, and the ability to cope with stress. For both the older adult and the caregiver, spirituality can allow them the opportunity to be a part of a community, and feel as if they have support with whatever issues they’re going through. Spirituality is appealing to those searching for meaning and strength in life, and offers the opportunity to develop a game plan for whatever life is bringing their way.
What Is Being Spiritual?
Setting aside time for meditation and other self-reflective techniques can assist caregivers dealing with stressful changes occurring in their lives. Finding positivity in their role and allowing it to make them stronger is an aspect of spirituality some might not have considered. Another possibility is speaking to a Chaplin or religious figure, which might offer the opportunity to have someone listen with a non-judgmental ear. For the patients or loved ones they care for, it may mean community service to others to avoid isolation, or a personal belief that sparks a sense of well-being, positivity, and resilience.
The responsibility of care-giving is not easy to shoulder. If a caregiver is too focused on giving, their spiritual needs might fall by the wayside, affecting their well-being and their ability to cope. Spiritual stereotypes abound for both caregivers and older adults, but breaking through those may be the difference in the quality of life for everyone.