Edited by Albert Jewell.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This collection of essays on the spiritual well-being of older people has something to offer believers and non-believers alike.
All the contributors ponder the application of spirituality, either as a part of formal religion or not, to the lives of older people, and conclude that this area of care is fundamental to positive living in the fourth age of life.
One essay, the Caged Bird, considers the emotional impact of a stroke. It concludes that health and social care professionals are neglecting the mind in order to give priority to the body during episodes of acute illness as if the mind and body were not inextricably linked in the issue of well-being.
Many contributions look at loss in old age and at the role of spirituality in nourishing the whole person in “the crisis of old age”, and one, in particular, cites research which suggests that a strong spirituality or vehement atheism are more conducive to surviving the crisis, than a lack of conviction either way.
While there is some tedious pondering on the meaning of the “weasel word” spirituality, on the whole, the essays are a thought-provoking and insightful contribution to the provision of holistic care in old age.
Rachel Wooller is a senior social worker, Cambridge City Primary Care Trust.