Supporting the Link Between Spirituality and Wellness

When we think about health, we usually focus on our physical condition. But spiritual wellness can be just as important to our overall health. Spirituality “includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe,” said Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute.

Hettler believed, and studies have shown, that embracing our spirituality can have a positive effect our physical and mental health. Why is that? Spirituality is a very broad topic – for many people, it centers on religious beliefs and practices; for others, it can be as simple as a walk in nature. Is it possible that such different practices can have the same effect on different people? The answer is that engaging in these meaningful activities can inspire thoughts about our place in the world, our relationships with our loved ones and community, and the principles that guide our daily life. Hettler noted, “You’ll know you’re becoming spiritually well when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values, resulting in a ‘world view.’”

Of course, spirituality is important at any age and no matter our physical or mental abilities. Our care managers understand that spirituality may be an important part of each client’s life, and that it means different things to different people. When it comes to spiritual practices, here are some of the ways we help:

Listening

  • Asking clients about their spirituality and/or how religion plays a role in their life. Opening up a space for this conversation and allowing the client to be heard.
  • Talking to the client about end-of-life planning and incorporating their spiritual practices into their advance directives. For example, they may want specific religious text passages read at their funeral, or want to be buried in a certain section of a cemetery based on their religious faith.

Helping

  • The care manager can help the client get to the places that support their spiritual health, such as a church, temple, synagogue, or nature, or being with a group of people who foster spiritual health and growth. This can happen in person or virtually. The care manager can also arrange for professional caregivers to help in this area.
  • Connecting a client with a spiritual adviser when the client is ill, hospitalized, or at the end of life, such as arranging for a visit from an imam, priest or rabbi.

Advocating

  • Care managers can advocate for clients so their religious beliefs are upheld in medical situations, such as clients who are Christian Scientist or who do not believe in blood transfusion (for example, a Jehovah’s Witness).
  • Educating professional caregivers about the client’s religion or spiritual practices so they understand and can support the client respectfully. Examples include clients who keep kosher, or clients who do not celebrate traditional holidays like birthdays.

At Windward Life Care, our care managers assess each client’s personal circumstances to develop a customized plan of care. They take into account the client’s unique identity, including religious/spiritual beliefs, cultural background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and family structure. Learn more.