The aging process brings many changes to our later lives, some of which may be joyful – watching grandchildren grow up – or challenging, such as grieving the loss of independence. Throughout the changes we experience with age, our spirit, our sense of self, adapts. With the turbulence of change going on around us, it can be difficult to hold on to the sense of who we are and what purpose we have for our lives.
“For some,” says Cydney Hansen, Marketing Director at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, CA, “spirituality can be a great source of comfort in aging. If one’s beliefs are strongly held and align with one’s life, then they can serve as an anchor during the aging process. However, if life challenges some of those beliefs, it’s easy to feel lost or unsure of how to proceed spiritually.”
Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, we all have a spiritual existence however we define it. Our spirit is the inner part of us that feels alive and connected to something beyond our physical being. It makes sense, then, that everything we experience affects our spirituality, and vice versa. Aging is another part of life that allows us to experience new spiritual growth as we learn to cope with life’s challenges.
Reconciling spirituality with cognitive decline
Changes in our health, either through physical or cognitive decline, can certainly affect our spiritual well-being. For those living with memory loss, reconciling who we are now with who we were can be extremely challenging. According to Rev. Jennifer L. Brower in an interview on faith, spirituality and aging, losing our independence due to declining health can lead to bitterness and frustration.
A loss of independence isn’t the only challenge of cognitive decline, though. Rev. Brower says, “As our abilities change, there may also be a growing feeling of estrangement from oneself – a disconnect, if you will, between our self-perception and our physical reality … And so, as our abilities are impaired, our body ceases to be a place of familiarity, comfort and ease. If our physical and cognitive functioning is no longer predictable and reliable, we no longer know our body. And who are we then?”
For those of us who are healthy, this disconnect could be hard to understand. However, we can imagine the challenge our loved ones with memory loss might experience as the reality of their cognitive impairment no longer aligns with who they are inside. Imagine the conflict they might feel regarding their sense of self. Not only must they cope with aging and memory loss and dependency on others, but they must learn how to cope with an inner self they might not wholly recognize.
Allowing spirituality to combat fear
Despite the challenges of aging that may affect one’s spirituality, many find comfort in their personal beliefs when faced with difficult situations. Especially for those who have a spiritual or religious community that believes similar things, they can turn to this support system to find comfort and learn how to cope with challenges. Their faith in whatever powers exist beyond themselves can allow them to see past their current challenges and take comfort in a greater meaning for their life than what they are presently experiencing.
Rev. Brower claims that even those without any religious affiliations or belief in God still encounter spiritual experiences that help them combat fear and cope with challenges. Even if we don’t call it by any name, if something moves us to feel awe or experience hope or inner freedom, we are “attuned to a quality of being and living that will help us cope with whatever may come.”
Our faith in God or our beliefs in what it means to be alive and find fulfillment doesn’t necessarily eliminate the fear or sorrow we feel in aging, but it can help us cope with these challenges by turning our focus toward something better.
Living through hardship and encouraging the spirit
Aging can pose many challenges to our spiritual well-being, but remaining spiritually healthy can offer us the strength and peace we need to keep going. “No matter how old we get to be,” says Rev. Brower, “no matter what the circumstances of our aging and dying, I believe that within our relationships with other people and through our unique experience of being alive, flashes of insight, moments of healing and transformation are always possible.”
A strong sense of spirituality can enhance one’s quality of life, but it’s sometimes hard to do so alone. “At CountryHouse, we believe community and companionship with others is a vital part of healthy aging,” shares Hansen. “Often another person’s company and friendship can help us find the spiritual wellness we couldn’t otherwise find on our own.”
If you’re looking for a community where you or a loved one can find others to share life with, or would like to talk to someone about spirituality and aging, the team at CountryHouse would be happy to speak with you. Call us today and learn more about our residential lifestyle and how you can be a part of our close-knit community.
Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.
CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.
At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.
With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!
Connect with us today or call us at 916•850•2774 for more information or to schedule a visit.
CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.