Spiritual needs were identified as a basic need for individuals of any age almost 3 decades ago at the 1971 White House Conference on Aging. Since that time, the nursing profession has championed our understanding of the concept of spirituality through care practices, taxonomic development, and research. A growing number of studies have linked components of spirituality - including religiosity, religious coping, and religious activities such as prayer - to improved mental health outcomes and increased adaptation to stress in later life, especially for caregivers. As Stolley (1997) noted, gerontological nurses should assess the potential role religiosity may play in the caregiving experience so they can design interventions that incorporate the caregivers' spiritual and religious perspectives. By tapping the caregivers' internal resources and beliefs, nurses may help caregivers to cope and, thus, make caregiving less stressful, more meaningful, and more rewarding.
Spirituality is not only helpful for caregivers. The literature reveals that religiosity and spirituality are correlated with improved physical and mental health outcomes for older, acutely ill hospitalized men (Koenig, 1995a), homeless women (Schuler, Gelberg, & Brown, 1994), older adults in general (Koenig, 1995b; Krause, 1995), and individuals from minorities (Levin, Chatters, & Taylor, 1995; Stolley & Koenig, 1998). In this issue of the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, Isaia, Parker, and Murrow report on spirituality and its relation to wellbeing in community-dwelling older adults. The Journal of Gerontological Nursing is pleased to be able to contribute to further knowledge dissemination in this important area.
Kathleen C. Buckwaiter
- Koenig, H.G. (1995a). Use of acute hospital services and mortality among religious and non-religious copers with medical illness. Journal of Religions Gerontology, 9(3), 1-21.
- Koenig, H.G. (Ed.). (1995b). Research on religion and aging. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Krause, N. (1995). Religiosity and self-esteem among older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 505(5), 236-246.
- Levin, J.S., Chatters, L.M., & Taylor, R.J. (1995). Religious effects on health status and life satisfaction among black Americans. Journal of Gerontology Social Sciences, 50B, S154-S163.
- Schuler, P.A., Gelberg, L., & Brown, M. (1994). The effects of spiritual/religious practices on psychologic well-being among inner city homeless women. Nurse Practitioner Forum, 5(2), 106-113.
- Stolley, J. (1997). Religiosity and coping for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa.
- Stolley, J.M., & Koenig, H.G. (1998). Religion/Spirituality and health in African Americans and Hispanics. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 35(11), 32-38.