Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Abstract

Given the large projected increase in the proportion of Australian older adults (13% in 2004 to 22% in 2031) and the personal importance placed on spirituality in the lives of older adults, it is timely to investigate the role of spirituality in the everyday lives of older adults. The present paper analyses the literature pertaining to the psychological implications of spirituality in older adulthood. The points of discussion identified in the review include the relationship between spirituality and religion, theories of spiritual development, psychosocial wellbeing, health, end of life issues, culture, and psychological practice. It is concluded that the paucity of Australian research into spirituality in older adulthood results in a gap in the body of knowledge. Addressing this gap would be beneficial as it could inform policy makers, inform psychological and educational practice, and potentially bridge intergenerational tensions. The present study explored the role and meaning of spirituality in older adulthood. Ten Western Australians aged over 65 years (M= 75.7, SD = 5.64; seven females and three males) participated in individual in-depth semi-structured interviews. Principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis were utilised as a theoretical framework. The research questions were: What is the meaning of spirituality in older adulthood and what is the role of spirituality in older adulthood? Three themes emerged from the data: connection with a transcendent force, spirituality provides meaning, and fruition of spirituality. The findings indicated that spirituality promotes psychological wellbeing, both in everyday life and when faced with crisis. A limitation of the present study is the homogenous sample, nine participants were Christian and one was Atheist, which limits transferability. Future studies could include samples from various faiths, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism for deeper understanding of similarities and differences.

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