Ageing, Spirituality and Health


  • Harriet Mowat University of Aberdeen



ageing, older people, spiritual journey, spiritual need, caring task


This paper takes the view that old age is a spiritual journey. It suggests that a primary task for the carer is to support this spiritual journey into old age. The spiritual development of the older person is also assisted by an appropriate societal context, hospitable to this view of the ageing process. Thus older people may be encouraged to retain a sense of self, of meaning and of integrity. The article explores the various discourses through which ageing is understood, and discusses the implications for health and social care services of the ‘spiritual journey' discourse.

Author Biography

Harriet Mowat, University of Aberdeen

Harriet Mowat is honorary senior lecture, University of Aberdeen.


ACHENBAUM W. A. (2001) Aging in Grace: The spiritual journey of Henri Nouwen Journal of Aging and Identity December 2001 Vol. 6 no 4 pp 183-19

ANTONOVSKY A (1987) Unravelling the mysteries of health: how people manage stress and stay well Josey Bass Wiley

BERGER P (1969) The social reality of religion London: Faber

COLEMAN P ( 2004) Is religion the friend of Ageing? Generations Review Vol. 14. No 4, October

COLEMAN P. G ( 2004) Ageing and Development: Theories and Research London : Hodder Arnold

DOUGLAS J (1967) The social meanings of suicide Princeton University Press

ERIKSON E., ERIKISON J.M. AND KIVNICK H.Q. (1986) Vital Involvement in Old age. WW.W. Norton and Co

FRANKL. V. (1984) Man’s Search for Meaning: an introduction to logotherapy Touchstone Books, paperback

FRIEDEN B. (1993) The Fountain of Age. Simon and Schuster

GREENBERG J. AND MITCHELL S. (1983) Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory Harvard University Press

KIMBLE M (2002) Viktor Frankl’s contribution to Spirituality and Aging The Haworth Pastoral Press, New York.

KIRKWOOD T. (1999) Time of our lives Blackwells Kirkwood Tom (1999) Time of our lives Blackwells

KITWOOD T (1997) Dementia Reconsidered: The person comes first Open University Press

LUCKMANN T. (1967) Invisible religion: the problem of religion in modern society. New York: Macmillan

MOWAT H. (1999). Expert Elders and successful ageing: a series of presentations. Information available from author.

MOWAT H. and SWINTON J (2004) What do Chaplains do? The role of the Chaplain in meeting the spiritual needs of patients Mowat Research and Centre for Spirituality Health and Disability, Aberdeen University Report No. CSHD/MR001 ISBN 09549901-0-2

MOWAT H. (2003) The spiritual journey and successful ageing in Ageing, Spirituality and Wellbeing ed Albert Jewell, Jessica Kingsley Press

MOWAT H. (2004) Ageing, Spirituality and Health Care: a view from Scotland : 3rd international conference spirituality and ageing -Adelaide 27 September – 1 October and Australian Central Territories

MOWAT H. (2004) Quality of life for seniors combating social isolation ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing, Canberra 5th October 2004

MOWAT H. and Ryan D (2003) “Spiritual Issues in Health and Social Care: Practice Into Policy?” in McFadden Susan H. Brennan M and Patrick Julie Hicks New Directions in the Study of Late Life Religiousness and Spirituality The Haworth Pastoral Press

SPECK P. (2001) Spirituality and Well being in women over 45 years. Pennell Initiative for Women’s Health

WOODWARD K (2003) Against Wisdom: the social politics of anger and aging Journal of Aging Studies. 17 (1).



How to Cite

Mowat, H. (2013). Ageing, Spirituality and Health. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 7-12.