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Spirituality, Health, and Well-Being in Later Life---Pitfalls and Promises

CE Credit: 2

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Length: 110 minutes

***Slides from one presenter are missing from this session. They will be added when received***

Session offered by Division 20.

The aim of this symposium is to report the new findings of three different research projects that illustrate the importance of spiritual and religious involvement in older adults and the role such beliefs plays in their health and well-being. These studies will help address several gaps in the current literature. First, despite increasing evidence on beneficial effects of spirituality, little is known about the destructive side of faith. The concept of spiritual struggle, for example reflects a troubled “existential relation” with God or another higher power in faith, intensified especially in adversity, such as several illness. Second, very few studies have investigated the differential effect of dwelling (a traditional, church oriented way of relation to God), spiritual seeking (a non-traditional way of relation to an impersonal, transcendent being) and wisdom (a personality characteristic associated with good judgment, insight, and the ability to balance between intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal interests) on late-life wellbeing. Third, research on religious coping has seldom followed a clinical sample for year with objective medical indices adjusted and mechanism evaluated. Paper 1 demonstrated two longitudinal studies of 202 older patients (mostly male veterans) dealing with advanced congestive heart failure (CHF) and the impact of their high levels of spiritual struggle. Paper 2 examined the relations between three forms of religious and spiritual concepts in relations with two types of mental health associated with hedonic and eudaimonic sense of well being, respectively. Paper 3 showed the follow-up of patients undergoing open-heart surgery for three years and the positive effect of preoperative using prayer for coping on health outcomes. Taken together, this symposium will be an appeal to a balanced view in psychology of aging and psychology of religion. It will be of interest to members in both Division 20 and 36, Divisions of clinical, counseling, and health psychology.

Learning Objective 1
Demonstrate knowledge of diverse faiths related effects on health and well-being so as to help clients get through destructive processes or find alternative ways for coping with severe illnesses other difficulties in adversity.

Learning Objective 2
Increase knowledge of how both positive and destructive side of faith that may influence the clinical outcome and well-being of older clients who are struggling to cope with major life crises, physical, psychosocial, and/or spiritual.

Presenters: Amy L. Ai, PhD; Paul Wink, PhD; Crystal L. Park, PhD


Supplementary Materials

  • Ai
  • Gerontologist 2010
  • Park
  • Paul
  • References