SCG4240EN - Spiritual Caregiving of the Elderly

Course description

This course engages the learner around spiritual care as part of the biopsychosocial model of care of the elderly. The elderly are both dispensers and receivers of spiritual caregiving. Sensitivity to understanding unfinished business, spiritual strengths and weaknesses, congruence and making meaning in the later years and at the end of life. Incorporating spiritual care helps healing, coping, hope.

How this course benefits students

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.

Why this course is important

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.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Spiritual Caregiving
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.
Dr. Debra Newell, Distinguished Professor of Gerontology

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

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.

Missionally driven

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.

Contextually informed

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.

Interculturally focused

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.

Practically minded

Spiritual caregiving deals with the essence of the person at their core, independent of other modifiers.

Experientially transformed

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.