Because older adults belong to one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the United States (Lewis, p. 231), it is expected that the whole of the human services field will need to find and incorporate efficacious treatments and techniques (Lewis, p. 239) for these older adults’ benefits.
The increase of their access to basic human services to promote healthy development is much needed and one way to answer this need is by regarding their spiritual lives.Trailing behind family and government support as the most important in older adults’ lives are spirituality and religion (cited in Lewis, p. 231). For them, these two are effective ways of coping and support (cited in Lewis, p. 232). As part of the human services field, knowing this fact will enable me to reach out to and support them in a manner that will be effective. Since I am also a spiritual person and I value my religion, talking to them about spirituality will not be a problem for me.
Their misconception that medical professionals will just ignore their spiritual life (Lewis, p. 235) may not surface in our casual conversations. Their past experiences and troubles will be our topics as I listen, monitor, and take note of their stories. If they are willing to share their crises such as retirement, death of spouse, or their own imminent death (Vander Zanden, p. 661), all the better. Our simple life review or story sharing may have significant effect in their adjustment to death, can give more meaning to their present lives (cited in Vander Zanden, p.
661), and can help them find the value of integrity (Lewis, p. 234).But talking with them is not the only service I can offer.
Knowing that spirituality is important in older adults’ lives, it is helpful that I encourage and motivate them to further explore their spirituality (cited in Lewis, p. 235). I can initiate this by personally accompanying them in praying, in reading and sharing the lessons of the Bible, and in attending spiritual or religious worship service (cited in Lewis, p. 231). Reaching out to their families and loved ones will also be useful so that they can also motivate and encourage their older adult family members to pursue their spiritual lives by being the ones to accompany them in their praying, Bible reading, and worship services.
Since most older adults fear that aging will entail decline in their health (cited in Zander Vanden, p. 661), I can educate them about all the facilities that can improve their health condition and provide them with easy access to these facilities. In this way, the percentage of older adults underutilizing health services, specifically mental health services (Lewis, p.
231), may somehow decrease.Also, since spiritual older adults are committed to being physically healthier (cited in Lewis, p. 232), I can also encourage them to pursue healthy living by eating right, exercising, and staying away from alcohol and smoking.
Engaging older adults in a life review can be useful in resolving the conflicts they had in the past so that they can move on and reach integrity (cited in Lewis, p. 234). However, since it is not easy to look back and finish unfinished business, such as asking for forgiveness for a past wrong action, forgiving a person who had wronged them, or exploring unresolved feelings around a certain incident (Lewis, p. 236), it is important for me to wait until they are ready to resolve these. For it is not me who will solve their problems but they themselves. My job is to just assist them so that they can work through their problems, discover ways to deal with them if they occur again, and explore coping mechanisms for the future (Lewis, p.
237).However, my assistance as well as the older adults’ families’ should be limited and sensitive, since older adults do not want to feel that they are so much dependent on other people (Zander Vanden, p. 661). This can make them feel worthless, thus, instead of attaining what Erickson called ‘value of integrity,’ the opposite, despair, will be reached. And that is not my goal as part of the human services field.