There are many overlapping definitions about spirituality and pastoral care. After careful consideration, the Meaningful Ageing Australia Board chose these as working definitions to underpin our work:
Spirituality is the way we seek and express meaning and purpose; the way we experience our connection to the moment, self, others, our world and the significant or sacred.
(Adapted from California Lutheran Homes Centre for Spirituality and Ageing)
Spiritual care occurs in a compassionate relationship. It responds to our search for meaning, self-worth, and our need to express ourselves to a sensitive listener. It may include faith support, rites, rituals, prayer or sacrament.
(Adapted from NHS Scotland, 2009)
Pastoral care complements the care offered by other helping disciplines while paying particular attention to the spiritual. It is focussed on healing, guiding, compassionately supporting, nurturing, liberating and empowering of people. It is person centred and holistic.
(Adapted from Dr Bruce Rumbold)
Spirituality and Ageing
Spirituality is an essential dimension that brings meaning to life; it is deeply associated with relationship, transcendence and hope. Increased awareness of spirituality is often seen in later life, especially through transitions, issues of health, end of life, and the need for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Spiritual tasks of ageing
Particular aspects of the spiritual dimension become more important for many older people. These aspects or tasks of ageing are: Finding final meanings in life (What has my life been for? Where do I find meaning now as I grow older?); learning to transcend the disabilities and losses often experienced; affirming relationships (old and new); finding hope in the face of physical and mental deterioration and frailty.
The goal of spiritual care of older people is to affirm the older person in their life journey, to strengthen resilience and support flourishing in whatever circumstances of life the person experiences.