Spirituality and religion are very important, especially in people’s later years. More than 1,500 scientific studies have investigated the link between spiritual and religious well-being and medical status. Most studies have shown that higher levels of spirituality/religiosity are associated with better health outcomes measured by objective standardized tests.
Mental well-being is perceived as psychological and spiritual well-being. This is especially relevant for our patients and their families and caregivers who go through difficult challenges as they face the hardships of disease, infirmity and end-of-life issues. Advanced age faces individuals with various personal losses, many work or domestic pressures have passed, and time allows us now to consider the meaning of life, time to make peace in our family and with old enemies, and to grow in our own spiritual rite. Many of the elderly use religious services, pray and maintain social connections around the place of worship. The religious connections protect them from social solitude. Research has also shown that there is a connection between religiousness or spirituality and depression and anxiety. Research conducted by Herzog’s Director of Neurological Services, Dr. Yakir Kaufman indicated that an individual’s level of spirituality can slow the advance of Alzheimer’s Disease. Religious beliefs also play a significant role in the decisions patients make regarding their medical care. During crises and serious illness, people turn to spiritual and religious support. In geriatrics, when dealing with serious illnesses and death, there is a need to provide mental security and support. Suffering is not only physical, but also social, psychological and spiritual.
The supportive spiritual care focuses on two main aspects: the first – the staff’s knowledge of the spiritual and religious preferences and background of the individual, so that there is a continuum between his home and the hospital. The second aspect is providing health care within the hospital, while relating to the spiritual needs of the patient and his family on a continuing and long term basis, as needed.