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Issues » 2016/5 - Social Work and Social Entrepreneurship »

Věra Suchomelová

Spiritual Needs of the Elderly in Social Care


This article responds to the currently unfounded marginalization of spiritual development and spiritual needs in social care of the elderly. In the same way spirituality is a natural part of the personality of each person regardless of religiosity or religious affiliation, so also are spiritual needs a complex of values common to religious and non-religious people. Meeting these needs is closely related to the key tasks of age, which lie mainly in the spiritual plane: building a life story, achieving life balance, reconciling with others, preparing for dying and death. This paper references findings of a qualitative study “Spiritual Needs in the Daily Life of the Elderly in Southern Bohemia”. The article defines five key spiritual needs of old age: dignity and self-esteem, meaning and continuity in one’s life story, hope and goals, faithy and love. It also describe their source and the way of fulfilling them in one’s everyday life. A fundamental way to identify specific spiritual needs and support their fulfillment is a patient interview based on active listening. However, the essence of spiritual support for the elderly is not to passively grant their wishes, but rather to help them to uncover their own resources and life force to handle specific tasks of age.


social care, the elderly, aging, spiritual needs, spirituality

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