The Significance of Spirituality in the Well Elderly

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 3:50 PM

Joseph Molinatti, EdD, RN
Nursing, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Bronx, NY

Learning Objective 1: identify patterns in healthy elderly associated with: meaning of spirituality, role spirituality plays, how the need is met and challenges to meeting this need.

Learning Objective 2: identify 5 specific content areas in a baccalaureate nursing program where knowledge regarding spirituality in the healthy elderly can be integrated.

Purpose:   The purpose of this study was to investigate the concept of spirituality in the well elderly, their perceived ideas, needs and concerns.  Research in this area had been in the neophyte stage as the emphasis had been primarily on the hospitalized elderly. The more one understands the lived experience of the healthy elderly the better professionals are equipped to provide for the total needs of the individual. Adding to this body of knowledge would enable faculty to better prepare nurses for the assessmnent and intervention of this need in the healthy elderly, an aggregate of growing numbers in the population.

Methods:   Qualitative research methodology was used to explore the meaning of spirituality for the well elderly living within a community setting. The subjects were twenty six individuals, ages 65 to 85 living independently in  either Southern California or the New York Metropolitan area. Participants were provided information regarding the study and signed concents obtained prior to participation. Nine open-ended questions were used during the face-to-face interview. Each interview was recorded and the resulting transcrips provided the data for analysis. 

Results:  The analysis of the data identified 9 patterns/themes associated with the concept of spirituality for the well elderly living independently. 

Conclusion:  Data from this research suggested that there may be certain patterns/themes which are more universal then previously thought. Further research to expand the undertsanding of this concept is needed as the patterns/themes identified can not be generalized to the larger population at this time. The information gained from this research has added to an existing body of knowledge integral to the nursing curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.