Spirituality of Later Life: On Humor and Despair

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“Humor expresses a certain heroic defiance in the face of life’s most challenging experience and provides a valuable resource for the celebration of life and the divine comedy of faith, hope, and love.”—From the book chapter by Melvin A. Kimble, PhD

Studies have shown that as many people age, their spirituality deepens. Spirituality of Later Life: On Humor and Despair explores the challenges faced by those in later life and the use of humor for self-transcendence to achieve greater strength and deeper spirituality. Respected authorities share their insights on humor and despair in the process of spiritual development in later life, with discussions on how to provide effective pastoral practice in aged care.

Spirituality of Later Life: On Humor and Despair presents the major issues that challenge people in later life that could lead them to either spiritual integrity or despair. Beyond the physical and psychosocial, this book shows how the journey into aging can—through humor—become self-transcendent and deeply spiritual in the face of physical decline. This theological perspective illustrates the full breadth of issues facing those in later life. It presents effective pastoral frameworks of care for those who struggle with the depression, dementia, disabilities, losses, and terminal illness that may accompany aging.

Spirituality of Later Life: On Humor and Despair explores:

  • humor as a path to self-transcendence in later life
  • later life’s ’paradox of well-being’ and ’defiant power of the human spirit’
  • dementia and its effect on spirituality
  • spiritual and pastoral care approaches for those with depression
  • religiousness in older people with dementia
  • the spiritual journey of hospice patients
  • non-speech based pastoral care
Spirituality of Later Life: On Humor and Despair provides valuable insights for aged care chaplains, parish clergy, pastoral and aged care workers, social workers, activity officers, health professionals, and anyone whose life includes an elderly person.
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What People Are Saying

Richard H. Gentzler
Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin, CSA, Director, Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries, General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church
I found the content THOUGHT-PROVOKING AND RICH IN IDEAS. This book is an important and stimulating contribution to the study of spirituality and aging. It deserves careful attention from pastors, chaplains, and religious workers serving older adults.
Cannon Robert W. Carlson
The Rev. Cannon Robert W. Carlson, DMin, Vice President, Episcopal Senior Ministries, Washington, DC; Immediate Past Chair, National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (NICA)
A VALUABLE RESOURCE FOR CAREGIVERS to disabled elders, both in offering useful approaches and in seeing humor as a healthy penultimate antidote to despair. The first four chapters focus on humor and its relationship to spirituality, while the remainder of the book addresses the pastoral care needs of aged persons struggling to escape the pitfall of despair. The encouraging aspect of these essays lies in their suggestions of how helping persons can respond to these needs, even when the needs are colored by such seemingly impossible barriers as dementia and the inability to talk.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789027313
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

  • Foreword (James W. Ellor)
  • Preface
  • Human Despair and Comic Transcendence (Melvin A. Kimble)
  • The Paradoxes of Humor and the Burdens of Despair (Susan H. McFadden)
  • Lift up Your Hearts: Humour and Despair in Later Life (Heather Thompson)
  • Humour: A Way to Transcendence in Later Life (Elizabeth MacKinlay)
  • Dementia, Identity, and Spirituality (John Killick)
  • Ways of Studying Religion, Spirituality, and Aging: The Social Scientific Approach (Elizabeth MacKinlay and Susan H. McFadden)
  • Spiritual and Pastoral Care Approaches for Helping Older Adults with Depression (John White)
  • ’Just Because I Can’t Remember…’ Religiousness in Older People with Dementia (Corinne Trevitt and Elizabeth MacKinlay)
  • Hope Rising Out of Despair: The Spiritual Journey of Patients Admitted to a Hospice (Ann Harrington)
  • Non-Speech Based Pastoral Care: A Pastoral Care Program for Aged Care Residents with Little or No Ability to Speak (Elizabeth Vreugdenhil)
  • Index
  • Reference Notes Included
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