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

part |73 pages

Epistemological Stirrings in the Study of Religiousness and Spirituality

chapter 2|19 pages

Examining Spirituality Over Time

Latent Growth Curve and Individual Growth Curve Analyses

chapter 4|17 pages

Spiritual Issues in Health and Social Care

Practice Into Policy?

chapter 5|15 pages

A Mighty Fortress Is Our Atheism

Defining the Nature of Religiousness in the Elderly

part |68 pages

Approaches to the Definitional Dilemma

chapter 6|15 pages

Practical Philosophies

Interpretations of Religion and Spirituality by African American and European American Elders

chapter 7|17 pages

Dwelling and Seeking in Late Adulthood

The Psychosocial Implications of Two Types of Religious Orientation

chapter 8|20 pages

Widows' Spiritual Journeys

Do They Quest?

part |80 pages

The Fruits of the Religious Life

chapter 10|18 pages

Why Believe?

The Effects of Religious Beliefs on Emotional Well Being

chapter 11|18 pages

Coping with the Uncontrollable

The Use of General and Religious Coping by Caregivers to Spouses with Dementia

chapter 14|8 pages


A “Conversation” About Theories, Definitions, and Applications