Spiritual caregiving and care receiving is often a rite of passage of and by elderly individuals. The context, culture, faith tradition and levels of health and wellness help define how these roles play out for each family and individual. Spiritual caregiving can aid in physical healing, easing spiritual and physical pain. Giving spiritual care is also part of the lifecycle stages of generativity and passing on important information and life goals. Understanding the nuances of spiritual care needs of elderly in a variety of settings is paramount in order to facilitate the transitions and hone skills applicable for all disciplines and walks of life.
As the biopsychosocial model of life is considered, many individuals realize the importance spiritual care, though they are not comfortable in providing such. The ability of a student to successfully conduct a spiritual assessment with an older person in a variety of settings is a prime outcome measure to assess student learning. Career/volunteer/ministry paths may include: senior ministry, calling on elderly in the community for a friendly visit, social service practitioner or volunteer, health care professional, chaplain in example.
Students need to be comfortable with their own spirituality and theology in order to provide, teach and facilitate spiritual care to others, particularly the elderly. Important to know how to integrate in many settings.
Healthcare theories abound, but not all have a biblical basis. This course could help develop biblically-educated healthcare providers and caregivers in the world of complex medical environment.
Jesus was always concerned with the whole person; sometimes He led with physical healing, other time He led with spiritual healing/care. We are to do what He did.
Elderly are revered or marginalized, usually not in between; culture, language, custom, mobility, health status, social/family status all come into play. Often by being His hands and feet to an elder creates an example to others who are then able to respect and care for them as well. And, to open up the dialog about beliefs, reconciliation and so on with the elder and family/friends as appropriate.
Spiritual care transcends any one particular religion and tends to the person’s spirit which is present in each individual regardless of religion, denomination, language, etc.
Spiritual caregiving deals with the essence of the person at their core, independent of other modifiers.
Spiritual caregiving is experiential because each person’s spirit is different and unique. There are some commonalities across spiritual caregiving, and in the elderly it may be in the context of health and illness, or approaching death, but it is an individual experience for the individual and the person providing the spiritual caregiving. This adds a richness to the process and experience.