Spirituality in geriatric psychiatry

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Academic recognition of the implications of religion/spirituality (R/S) for mental health is increasing, with a growing number of studies involving older adults. The present review provides an overview of these studies, highlighting the influence of R/S on older adults’ mental health and the clinical implications of addressing R/S in the geriatrics and gerontology context.

Recent findings

The available evidence suggests that R/S involvement is usually associated with lower levels of depression, substance use/abuse, and cognitive declining and better quality of life, well being, and functional status in older persons. Despite the number of studies showing this relationship, few have yet investigated the effects of addressing spiritual needs or carrying out R/S interventions in this age group.

Summary

Evidence is mounting that R/S is most important in geriatric psychiatry. In general, studies have shown a positive relationship between R/S and mental health in the older population. Health professionals should be attentive to these spiritual needs. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to investigate the mechanisms of the R/S–mental health association and how to integrate R/S in clinical practice.

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