Regina Harris, senior resources coordinator, Catholic Charities of Atlanta, opens the second annual Spirituality In Aging Partnership Series at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta, April 22. (Photo by Michael Alexander)
ATLANTA—A person’s faith and religious life may change as he or she enters into old age, but that doesn’t diminish the need for spiritual connections to nourish mental health.
Finding out how to spark those connections in elderly populations was the topic of the second annual Spirituality in Aging Partnership series, a half-day conference sponsored by Catholic Charities Atlanta.
With keynote speaker Nancy Kriseman, who is a licensed clinical social worker in gerontology and author of "The Caring Spirit," more than 100 people—comprised of pastoral care staff, personal caregivers and health ministry nurses—were given advice on how to connect to their clients in a more holistic and spiritual way. The gathering took place at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in midtown Atlanta.
For the event Catholic Charities Atlanta partnered with The Center for Positive Aging, the Georgia Institute on Aging and the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
Horace Cutter, a chaplain at Countryside Hospice, Newnan, bows his head during the opening prayer. (Photos by Michael Alexander)
Ministering to the elderly population is "an extension of the church’s pro-life ministry," said Joseph Krygiel, CEO of Catholic Charities Atlanta and the one who introduced Kriseman to the gathering. Regina Harris, Catholic Charities senior resources coordinator, also attended the event.
Kriseman asked audience members about their own definitions of spirituality and spoke about her experiences with her aging parents, while also encouraging the audience to share their experiences. Her mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and died recently; her father had pulmonary lung disease and dementia and passed away several years ago.
"A lot of times we think if an older person was not a spiritual or religious person, they don’t need spiritual care," Kriseman said. "But the majority of people in the world are spiritual in some way.
"For caregivers it is important to ask the question," she said. For example, "How do you know the spiritual state of the person who has dementia? If you don’t know, ask their family members, ‘how has their faith carried them through life?’"
With over two decades of consulting experience in program development and training in assisted living, nursing home, hospice, hospital and home care agency environments, Nancy L. Kriseman serves as the keynote speaker for the event.
Even if the person did not have a strong faith foundation or did not demonstrate that faith to the outside world, spiritual connections can be made through music, like singing a familiar hymn or song, in ritual or prayers, or in comforting scents, like baking bread or cookies, she said. "It can mean asking ‘what does faith mean to you,’ or ‘what does grace mean to you,’" she said. It’s also important that you encourage a spiritual connection by asking questions about pictures of people and things that matter to them, she added. "We need to help our elders find their jingle," she said.
Connecting with an elder’s spiritual side to "find that jingle" doesn’t have to be reserved for pastors, she said, although she acknowledged circumstances when pastoral intervention was needed.
"The work of the spirit is not just for pastoral folks," Kriseman said. For caregivers—including those taking care of parents—it’s important to refresh their own spiritual life and not become "dispirited," especially in the knowledge of an incurable condition, like Alzheimer’s disease, she said.
"People do need the space to grieve every time (their loved one) changes," she said. "But if you’re caring for a parent, it’s important to remember this is a role change, not a role reversal—your mother will always be your mother."
(L-r) Pauline Pezzino, pastoral intern at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, Deacon Jerry Korte of Sacred Heart Church, Hartwell, and Glen Lillquist of St. James the Apostle Church, McDonough, listen to the keynote address during the morning session.
Kriseman also encouraged those in attendance to give permission to embrace their own spirituality, even as they care for someone who is not their relative. "Very rarely do caregivers get to talk about their own spiritual care," she said.
"It’s a blessing to work with older people—you’re helping them finish well," she said.
Patti Miller, coordinator of family faith formation at St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn, was listening to Kriseman’s words carefully. Miller came to the conference not only to learn more about spirituality and aging to pass on to her congregation, but also because she has three family members who are elderly.
"This is at the forefront for me," she said. She came with fellow parishioner Sherry Johnson, who has worked with adult faith formation and RCIA at their church and has been a trauma care nurse for years. "This (spiritual side of care) was not always at the forefront, but it’s becoming more a part of nursing," Johnson said.
As their parish ages, said Miller, "a lot of families are asking these same questions (that Kriseman brought up.) We wanted to find out what’s new out there from a Christian and Catholic perspective."
Said Krygiel of Catholic Charities, " It’s our responsibility to take care of our senior population." He cited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 1999 statement, "The Blessings of Age."
All parishes and churches are called to respond to this," he said. "We cannot sit idle."
Approximately 100 participants were on hand for the the second annual Spirituality In Aging Partnership Series at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta.
By Rebecca Rakoczy
10 ways to control your anger - Professional expert’s advice
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order to understand the anger phenomenon I decided to investigate the nature of anger, reasons of its appearing, key factors and anger management.
What does it mean this anger? Anger is a strong indignation feeling of our emotional sphere that is attended by self-control losing. Anger is a signal of our state. Glands produce an array of hormones that have a great and deep effect on all our body. The main participants of this process are adrenaline and cortisol. They activate cardiovascular system and consequently all organs. Adrenalin causes fast heart beating, rising blood pressure. These rich oxygenated blood streams to the places are responsible for reaction. Thus some extra energy is released.
There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:
1. Straight and immediately (verbally or nonverbally) to show your anger. It gives an opportunity to free from the negative emotions.
2. To express anger in an indirect way. In this case usually suffer persons that are weaker, not dangerous and those ones who “come to hand”, usually they are our family and close relatives. Thus we hurt our dear ones. One of the best ways is to express your anger to the person who is the source of this very anger. If it is impossible- better find some compromise.
3. Restraining anger you “drive” it deep inside. So, negative emotions store will provoke a big stress sooner or later.
4. You may foresee situation of anger feeling, try not to expand this feeling but get to know the reason, understand and solve it. A Roman philosopher Seneca said: “When you are feeling of ascending “volcano”- stand still, not doing anything- not speaking, not moving.”
Anger is a normal and natural human feeling, especially nowadays as life is really fast and we have a huge amount of information to accumulate (in comparison with our previous generations). The range of anger is rather wide: from a slight annoyance to impetuous fury. Anger can be quick and long, lasting for years in form of bitterness, vengeance or hate. Anger can lead to health issues like depression, high blood pressure, hearth diseases, stresses, alcohol dependence and obesity. If you are anger- express it. If you feel discomfort from these “negative splashes”- then we can give some techniques how to manage your emotional anger:
- 1. Take a deep and continuous breath. Count up to 50 or imagine your aggressor just naked, only in socks. This will help you to calm and smile.
- 2. Have a walk. Look at high sky. Continue to breathe deep and easily. So you appraise the situation and calm down.
- 3. Do some physical exercises. When you are angry- your body is very tensed and tough. If you stretch your muscles it will relax your body, as you will spill out all your negative energy into action. Your brains will get more oxygen and it assists to clear your thoughts.
- 4. Write down all your thoughts. Write down that you are mad and why. Avoid being rational, logical or laconic. Write on paper all you are feeling this moment. Try to write all in details. The function of this technique is to shift all your anger out of your head on paper.
- 5. Be grateful. Find someone to thank. Do you not forget about yourself. Thank that you have woken up today, thank that that the Sun is shining for you, that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
- 6. Prayer. Ask God to be with you during this anger moment and lead you.
- 7. Meditation. Close your eyes, look into solar plexus, and be all your anger, breathing deeply.
- 8. Change of places. Move yourself on your enemy’s place. And look at situation from his point of view. Better look at the situation from the ceiling. Focus on details, especially on funny and absurd ones. Strive to forgive your enemy as well as forgive truly yourself.
- 9. Go back to your childhood memories. Recollect state when you were angry. Hug this child and say: “All is ok. I am here. You are good child. I love you and I will not leave you.”
- 10. Your values. What is the most significant thing in your life? Who are the most important people in your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Think and accept that point that you are living your life, and you are living your values. There is a good man inside you that wants to help you. I wish you good luck!
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order t...
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