Research shows that more than 90% of elderly in the U.S. consider themselves to be religious and approximately 5% consider themselves to be spiritual. Within these studies it was said that 96% of the elderly believe in God or a universal spirit, greater than 90% actively pray, and greater than 50% attend religious services weekly or more often, in the United States alone. With these statistics the need to provide programs that cater to both the religious and spiritual needs of the elderly should be considered a top priority.
Reaching all the diverse religious and spiritual beliefs in retirement communities can often be somewhat challenging and quite sensitive to some. In satisfying these needs you will not only be catering to their spiritual needs, but also to their physical, emotional and mental needs as well. Try some of these Inter-religious and Inter-spiritual programs to bring your residents together.
By starting prayer groups, you will be inviting residents from diverse religious and spiritual beliefs within your community to come together through prayer. Prayer groups can create opportunities to enhance social interaction through similar interests and it can also help eliminate feelings of depression due to medical issues.
Offer programs where residents can volunteer with the outside community or even within their living community. Doing so will offer a greater sense of independence and will promote positive feelings through helping others. Try doing canned food drives, Salvation Army drives, care packages for the troops, or even encouragement letters and pictures for people in the local hospitals.
Setting up visiting committees will also promote positive feelings through giving back and it will also cater to individuals who may suffer from depression or loneliness. Try setting up a weekly schedule for residents who are interested in volunteering to do some one on one room visits within your community, or to be the deliverers of the care packages or gifts the volunteer groups have organized.
Meditation groups are great in offering a sense of peace to individuals and groups in the midst of a busy lifestyle. Host a program that provides a dim lit room with relaxing music playing to allow ones spirit to experience rest and become peaceful. You can also try displaying relaxing and beautiful images in the room your program is being held in.
Religious & Spiritual Education Classes:
With the variety of religions and spirituality floating around within the walls of one community, finding a way to reach them all can become a bit challenging. Instead of doing all the reading and studying yourself, try to pick a designated day to highlight the individual beliefs of some of your residents and give them the opportunity to educate their peers. Doing this will offer a great sense of ownership to each resident in respect of their religious and/or spiritual beliefs.
For more information and statistics on research on “Religion and Spirituality in the Eldery” click here.