Jane Kuepfer, Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging, has always been deeply fascinated by the wisdom that is cultivated through years of living, and the way people navigate and become inspired by the experiences of life. We asked her some questions about what spirituality and aging looks like today.
What is a significant change you’ve seen in the field of aging and spirituality over the years?
Researchers and experts are recognizing that spirituality extends beyond religious practices. While acknowledging the rich resources that many people find in their religious traditions such as prayer, scriptures, and community, we are learning that everyone, religious or not, has a spiritual dimension.
How has the global pandemic influenced the field of aging and spirituality?
The global pandemic has shed light on the profound spiritual needs of humanity. As people faced uncertainties and challenges, questions about the meaning and value of life became more common. The need for connection, compassion, solace, and strength became evident as many people struggled through difficult experiences. This has reinforced the importance of spirituality and spiritual care.
How does the field of spirituality and aging cross over with other areas of study?
Spirituality and aging connect with many other fields, highlighting its multidisciplinary nature. For example, technology can help people explore their spirituality and connect with others. As another example, psychology recognizes that spirituality is important for mental health. It helps people build relationships, find meaning in life, and cope with illness. By exploring these intersections and many more, we gain a better understanding of the role spirituality plays in aging and how it interacts with other aspects of human experience.
What are some of the key themes or topics that participants learned about at the 10th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality?
The role of religion as a determinant of health, the meaning of aging across generations, the potential benefits and concerns surrounding the use of technology in spirituality, the intersection of dementia and faith communities, Indigenous knowledge and experiences, and much more was discussed throughout the conference.
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