1st Edition

New Directions in the Study of Late Life Religiousness and Spirituality

By Susan H. Mcfadden, Mark Brennan Copyright 2003
    258 Pages
    by Routledge

    258 Pages
    by Routledge

    Examine the questions of “how,” “what,” and “why” associated with religiousness and spirituality in the lives of older adults!

    New Directions in the Study of Late Life Religiousness and Spirituality explores new ways of thinking about a topic that was once taboo but that has now attracted considerable attention from the gerontological community. It examines various approaches to methodology and definition that are used in the study of religion, spirituality, and aging. In addition, it explores the ways that gerontological research can highlight the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of older adults.

    The first section will introduce you to new ways of thinking about research methodology and data analysis that can be applied to studying the complexity of older adults' religious/spiritual practice and beliefs. You'll learn several approaches to the study of phenomena that are both personal and also deeply embedded in community.

    The second section addresses issues of definition, exploring important questions that call for critical reflection, such as: “What are we studying?” “What social and psychological influences shape our thinking about definition?” and “Do the definitions used by gerontologists match those held by older people?”

    The final section moves the study of religion, spirituality, and aging beyond a focus on health and mortality to examine well-being more broadly in the context of the life experiences of older adults.

    Here is a small sample of what you'll learn about in New Directions in the Study of Late Life Religiousness and Spirituality:

    • structural equation modeling—a statistical method designed to capture the dynamics inherent in the passage of time
    • feminist qualitative methods for studying spiritual resiliency in older women
    • spirituality as a public health issue
    • the differences between groups of older people in the way they define religion and spirituality
    • the psychosocial implications of two types of religious orientation—“dwelling” and “seeking”
    • older women's responses to the experience of widowhood and to the question of whether their religious beliefs were affected by the experience
    • how social context influences our decisions and our interpretations of people's religious beliefs, behaviors, and experiences
    • the ways that people caring for a spouse with dementia rely on religious coping
    • a model that delineates three different ways people relate to God in coping—and a study that asks whether these types of coping produce different outcomes for caregivers
    • how people adjust to bereavement as a function of their beliefs about an afterlife

    • Charting a Course for the 21st Century Studies of Late Life Religiousness and Spirituality
    • Part I. Epistemological Stirrings in the Study of Religiousness and Spirituality
    • Examining Spirituality Over Time: Latent Growth Curve and Individual Growth Curve Analyses
    • Uncovering Spirituality Resiliency Through Feminist Qualitative Methods
    • Spiritual Issues in Health and Social Care: Practice into Policy?
    • A Mighty Fortress Is Our Atheism: Defining the Nature of Religiousness in the Elderly
    • Part II. Approaches to the Definitional Dilemma
    • Practical Philosophies: Interpretations of Religion and Spirituality by African American and European American Elders
    • Dwelling and Seeking in Late Adulthood: The Psychosocial Implications of Two Types of Religious Orientation
    • Widows’ Spiritual Journeys: Do They Quest?
    • The Role of Social Context in Religion
    • Part III. The Fruits of the Religious Life
    • Why Believe? The Effects of Religious Beliefs on Emotional Well Being
    • Coping with the Uncontrollable: The Use of General and Religious Coping by Caregivers to Spouses with Dementia
    • Effects of Religiosity and Spirituality on Depressed Affect and Prosocial Behaviors
    • Religiosity, Afterlife Beliefs, and Bereavement Adjustment in Adulthood
    • Afterword: A “Conversation” About Theories, Definitions, and Applications
    • Index
    • Reference Notes Included


    Susan H. Mcfadden, Mark Brennan