Religion, Health, and Aging: A Review and Theoretical Integration

Religion, Health, and Aging: A Review and Theoretical Integration

Religion, Health, and Aging: A Review and Theoretical Integration

Religion, Health, and Aging: A Review and Theoretical Integration


This book presents a comprehensive and scientific review of the research during the past fifty years on the relationship between religion and health in later life. It will help professionals gain awareness of the importance of religious and spiritual variables among older people. The widespread interest in religion among today's elderly suggests its value as a coping strategy and personal resource. Unlike any other in the field, this volume synthesizes both past research and new findings, including recent unpublished data, into a model of how religion might interact with other variables to help determine adaptation to stress in laterlife.


David O. Moberg

Three significant contemporary trends meet in this book. One is the expansion of the aging population that provides a large proportion of the patients of most medical specialties and health services. The second is an increasing emphasis on the unity of each person that is reflected in such concepts as "total wellness," "wholistic well-being," and "holistic medicine." The third is the rising interest in spirituality that is evidenced by a wide range of renewal phenomena in traditional Christianity, as well as by numerous new religious movements and countless pseudo-religious cults and practices.

High-technology medicine is accomplishing much, but its limitations are obvious to many. It has emphasized the mechanical, physiological, and biochemical means for restoring health and sustaining physical life, but it has tended to minimize or even ignore the psychological, social, and especially the religious and spiritual dimensions of healing. In contrast there is a growing recognition that all aspects of human nature, including a person's beliefs and activities, influence and are influenced by his or her physical and mental health, illness, and therapy. Along with expanding awareness of the importance of psychosomatic elements in the etiology, symptomatology, and therapy of illness and disability, there is increasing consciousness that a spiritual dimension also underlies and is interwoven with all human concerns and behavior.

Spirituality is linked with religion, although not synonymous with it, for a central goal of most religions is the development and nurturance of the spiritual well-being of their members. This is especially true of the Judeo-Christian orientations and traditions that are dominant in . . .

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