Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Ask Elderly Patients about Religious, Spiritual Beliefs

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Ask Elderly Patients about Religious, Spiritual Beliefs

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- Religious and spiritual beliefs often play an important role in the lives of the elderly and should be taken into account by health care workers who care for geriatric patients.

Physicians and others who care for the elderly should take a spiritual history of their patients following the FICA model: faith, importance, community, and addressing spiritual needs, Kathleen L. Egan, Ph.D., said at a conference sponsored by the American Society on Aging.

This means asking patients if they have a faith, how important it is to them, whether they belong to a faith community, and whether they have a spiritual need that requires action, said Dr. Egan, director of geriatrics education at the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania.

The physician or other care provider should also ask elderly patients if their religious and spiritual beliefs provide them comfort or stress, if their beliefs might influence or conflict with their medical care, and if other members of their religious community are supportive. But the caregiver should not proselytize, insist on taking a spiritual history if the patient does not wish to give one, argue with the patient, or give spiritual counseling. If the patient asks to pray with the caregiver, it should only be done if the caregiver is comfortable with the request. …

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