6th International Conference Plenary Addresses, Keynotes, Workshops, Lectures, and Poster Presentations
Monday, October 5
Theme: Pilgrimage and Meaning
Opening Address: Keith Albans, PH.D, BD
“Creativity and Resiliency on the Pilgrimage of Aging”
As Senior Chaplain to Methodist Homes in Great Britain, the Rev. Dr. Keith Albans was co-host of the 5th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality held in Edinburgh in 2013. He read Chemistry at Oxford and took a Ph.D at Southampton. Keith trained as a Minister in the Methodist Church at Manchester, taking a BD, and was appointed as Senior Chaplain to Methodist Homes where he is now Director of Chaplaincy & Spirituality. In 2013, Keith co-edited the book God, Me and Being Very Old.
Keynote: Jane M. Thibault, MA, MSSW, Ph.D
“Pilgrimage: A Way of Being on the Aging Journey”
Jane M. Thibault, MA, MSSW, Ph.D is an emerita clinical professor of geriatrics and gerontology in the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Louisville, KY , where she taught for 33 years. She also has served as an adjunct faculty member for the UofL School of Social Work and the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She is currently a consultant for aging issues, specializing in the spiritual dimensions of aging. She received her PhD in clinical gerontology from the University of Chicago. A trained spiritual director, she provides spiritual mentoring, workshops, and retreats for adults and their caregivers and shares a website with Harvard professor Robert Weber entitled www.ContemplAgeing.com. Jane is the author of many journal articles and books, including Understanding Religious and Spiritual Aspects of Human Service Practice; A Deepening Love Affair: The Gift of God in Later Life; 10 Gospel Promises for Later Life. No Act of Love is Ever Wasted: the Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia, and Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life: 7 Gateways to Spiritual Growth are co-authored with Richard Morgan.
Plenary Address: Elizabeth MacKinlay, AM, FACN, Ph.D
“Reflections on the Search for Meaning in Later Life”
Elizabeth MacKinlay is both a registered nurse and a priest in the Anglican Church of Australia. She was the inaugural Director of the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies at St Mark's National Theological Centre, Canberra, Australia, 2001 to 2012. She is a Professor in the School of Theology, Charles Sturt University. Her most recent books are Palliative Care, Ageing and Spirituality: A Guide for Older People, Carers and Families (a Chinese edition of this book has been published) and with Corrine Trevitt, Finding Meaning in the Experience of Dementia. This book was awarded the 2013 Australasian Journal of Ageing book prize. A new 2015 book is Facilitating Spiritual Reminiscence for People with Dementia: A Learning Guide. Elizabeth was the instigator of the first International Conference on Spirituality and Ageing held in Canberra, Australia in 2000.
“The Essential Spirit: Providing Wholistic Services to and with Older Adults” (symposium)
Donald Koepke, M. Div., BCC; Nancy Gordon, M. Div.; Peggy Price; Jay Westbrook
This symposium postulates that aging is inherently a spiritual experience and journey and that spirituality needs to be included in care by all disciplines. This workshop reflects the perspectives of four authors from different disciplines who wrote chapters in the forthcoming book: The Essential Spirit. They provide different perspective that will enable participants to become more aware of and able to use a client's spirituality in providing care for them.
“Person-Centered Dementia Care: It's Really Spiritual” (lecture)
Cordula Dick-Muehlke, Ph.D
Too often, we separate spiritual care from care as a whole, limiting the spiritual to religious beliefs, but person-centered dementia care practices (e.g., valuing and knowing the person) are spiritual at heart. Attendees will explore the breadth of spiritual care within the context of dementia and be challenged to transform care from a spiritual perspective, emphasizing meaning, connection, and self-transcendence.
“The Role of Psychotherapy and Spirituality in Dementia Care” (lecture)
Gloria Ryder, MA, M.Div
Although psychotherapy is considered an effective therapy for people with intellectual disabilities, it is rarely used in dementia care, even for people in the early stages of the disease. We will explore how deficit-based views of dementia limit the kinds of interventions that are considered effective in dementia care.
“Sensus Spiritalis – Embodiment and the Aging Face” (lecture)
Rebecca Giselbrecht, Ph.D
“Saving face” is merely a post-modern idiom for the ancient horror laden socio-cultural perception of shame. Shame should not be relegated to the halls of history, but revisited in relation to the spiritual senses and embodiment, particularly in discourse on ageing.
“The Myth of Independence” (lecture)
Esther Hurlburt, BSN, M.Div
Each of us will require care and each of us will give care to someone. Thus, we must move out of our denial that we are independent and make plans to grow old together within a context of a caring community. We will consider a theology of interdependence and covenant so that the needs of care-receivers and care-givers are addressed.
“Reminiscence and Resiliency: Spiritual Flourishing in the Second Half of Life” (workshop)
Beverly Johnson-Miller, Ph.D
This workshop will focus on the relationship between reminiscence and spiritual resiliency in the second half of life. The many forms of reminiscence will be identified, and various life review methods, practices, and resources explored. Participants will discover the spiritual wisdom and life enriching potential embedded in their personal stories.
“Tapping into The Soul through the Life Story and Faith Story” (workshop)
Beth Sanders, BA
This session will explore what conversations we can have to take us deeper into a person’s life story and into their most intimate faith story as well. No matter one’s age there are opportunities to build bridges between people – taking relationships to a whole new level if we’re ready and willing to go there. When we do, there is a transformative experience awaiting both the storyteller and the listener.
"Song as the Sacred Center of Care - Transforming the Dementia Experience through Music" (workshop)
Judith-Kate Friedman; Marty Richards, MSW
Rejoicing the Heart here
As we age, music-making offers direct paths to reflection, communion, praise and transcendence. In this experiential workshop, two long-time leaders in aging, music, spirituality and dementia care will share musical research, stories and exercises that deepen communication, bridge cognitive divides and expand possibilities – socially, between loved ones, in neighborhoods and within our biological and neurological systems.
“Perceptions of God as Bridging Variable for Wholistic Assessment”
James Ellor, Ph.D, D.Min, LCSW, DCSW
"Sensing the Sacred: Small Group Worship for Those with Dementia"
Nancy Gordon, M.Div
"Caregiver Wellness “U” Model: Spiritual Wellness"
Eboni Green, Ph.D, RN
“Spirituality in Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement for Skilled Nursing Facilities”
Reginald Mitchell, University of La Verne
Tuesday, October 6
Theme: Paradox and Promise
Plenary Address: Ralph Kunz, M.Th, Ph.D, Ph.D habil
“Paradox and Promise of the Aging Journey: Dementia as Metaphor”
Ralph Kunz is a Professor in Practical Theology with special focus on Homiletics and Pastoral Care at the University of Zurich. He was ordained as Verbi Divini Minister in Zurich. He conducted significant research into spirituality and the aging process, founded the Center for Church Development in Zurich, conducts radio sermons, and teaches Liturgical Practice and Practical Theology courses. His publications include Religion and Culture and Lively Worship.
Plenary: Dayle Friedman MA, MSW
“Grace and Grit: Wisdom for the Journey of Growing Older”
As a chaplain, teacher, social innovator, spiritual guide and scholar, Rabbi Dayle Friedman has pioneered the development of a Jewish spiritual vision for aging, healing and spiritual care. Her many publications include Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife (Jewish Lights, 2015), and Jewish Pastoral Care: A Practical Handbook from Traditional and Contemporary Sources. She founded and directed Hiddur: The Center for Aging and Judaism of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and earlier was founding director of chaplaincy services for the Philadelphia Geriatric Center. Rabbi Friedman offers classes, spiritual guidance and dementia spiritual care through Growing Older, her Philadelphia-based, national practice. She received rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also earned master's degrees in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Communal Service. She holds a master's degree in social work from University of Southern California and a bachelor of arts from Brandeis University.
“Ageing as an Unwanted or Ambiguous Gift” (lecture)
Keith Albans, Ph.D, BD
While we marvel at the general lengthening of life and the improvements in quality of later life for many, nonetheless it remains true that many people when asked whether they want to live to be very old say no, and no one seems keen on ending their days in an aged care facility. In effect, we are showing a reluctance to accept a gift from God. This lecture will explore this paradox, long-life discipleship rather than life-long discipleship, and a theology of being old.
“Facing Finitude: Learning to Live with Limits” (lecture)
Pastor Herbert Anderson, Ph.D
Finitude is an unavoidable and inescapable characteristic of being human. Even though finitude is unavoidable, we still fight it. We don’t like fences and the limitations of growing older. Finitude is, however, also a good thing. Boundaries give shape and character to moments or projects or a life. Even as we protest against being finite and mourn our losses, we continue to make new friends, explore new possibilities in which to invest our energies and our passions, and dream new dreams.
“Conscious Caregiving: Perspectives On the Human Experience of Caring” (workshop)
Connie Corley, Ph.D
Perspectives on the experience of receiving care and how it can impact relationships, including spiritual growth, will be presented and discussed; ways of experiencing "mindful respite" for caregivers will be demonstrated in role plays. Participants will connect around common experiences, contributing to the evolving conscious caregiving concept.
"In the Land of Forgetfulness" (workshop)
Wayne Ewing, Ph.D
"In the Land of Forgetfulness" (Psalm 88:12) provides some quiet time for reflection on, and assessment of, the spiritual journey undertaken with the Beloved in dementia caregiving. Together with Dr. Ewing, participants will explore the demanding spiritual dimensions of our caregiving, share skills for transforming spiritual exhaustion into spiritual growth, nurture each other in mapping our continuing journey, and grow in our capacity to treat ourselves compassionately and well in our caregiving.
“Searching for Water they Found a Rock” (lecture)
This lecture draws upon a number of early Australian explorers’ diaries’ reflections in their search for an inland sea; they failed to find a sea, but found “the Rock” Uluru. It will identify successive incremental movements from estrangement to this hostile land to embracing its mystery, and will provide a metaphorical framework for conversations, particularly with baby boomers. For today’s explorers, the trip becomes a pilgrimage embracing a deeper spirituality.
“Initiation, Transformation and Revelation: The Magic of Aging” (workshop)
John Robinson, MA, Ph.D, D.Min
At this moment in history, science, medicine and nutrition have created an entirely new stage of human life. Three powerful psychological/spiritual forces inform this new stage: initiation, transformation and revelation. Participants will discover that engaging these forces awakens amazing new developmental tasks. As pioneers of a new consciousness, elders may even change the course of human history, culture and evolution.
“Spiritual Development In The Later Years: Perceptions of Elders and Clergy” (workshop)
Vern L. Bengtson Ph.D; Jim Ellor, conversation guide
The conceptual background of the presenters’ research, as well as the methods being using, and some initial results from their early round of interviews of elders and clergy. Jim Ellor will join the presenter in facilitating a discussion on the topic of religion and aging from the perspective of the presenters and session participants, focusing particularly on spiritual and religious change in later life.
“Finding Meat In The Milk - The Importance of a Crisis of Faith in the Spiritual Journey of Frailty in Ageing” (lecture)
Chaplain Steven Clancy, B.Th
Spiritual Reminiscence assists the frail elderly to find meaning and purpose within their current context of life. During the process of reminiscence difficulties can occur in reconciling the faith traditions of the past with the present experience of Ageing. The crisis of faith, often seen as a negative experience, can be reshaped to be a positive experience—an experience where some of the deep hurts of life are reshaped as a new world view is explored and developed to bring peace to belief.
“Our Stories as a Map for Healing and Transformation” (workshop)
Rabbi Dayle Friedman
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot says that “our stories are our only map” as we approach later life. In this experiential workshop, we will explore our personal stories as sacred texts. Using the tools of Midrash/biblical explication, we will discover how we can look with curiosity and freshness at our own experiences, and find new perspective and peace in the process.
“Changing Our Relationship with Death” (workshop)
Stephen Garrett, MA
The culture of the United States promotes sees death as an enemy that MUST be fought at all costs. As a result we have a poor relationship with death and we spend nearly half our annual healthcare budget on 5% of the population in the final 10 months of their lives. Learn a different approach to dying and death that will result in more human and graceful passages, facing death in a way that truly inspires life.
“The Promise of Hope” (lecture)
Ann Harrington, RN, Ph.D
“Hope” may be a difficult concept to define, but studies show that a spiritual sense of self enables older people who are dying to maintain hope in the midst of their disease. This lecture will report on findings from interviews with dying patients and a current review of the literature that conclude that hope linked to spirituality is an important construct to maintain on the pilgrimage of aging.
“Spirituality at the End of Life” (lecture)
Stephen Peterson, M. Div
The dynamics of spirituality at the end of life are often not well understood. Deep spiritual themes are engaged when one faces a terminal diagnosis, though these themes are also common to us all, and will be explored and applied to daily living. The presenter speaks from direct experience with the dying as a hospice Chaplain, and some of this content will be reflected in poetry written by the presenter in the course of this work.
“Growing Old in Asian Cultures” (lecture)
Ronald Nakasone, Ph.D; Venerable Theopo Tulku Rimpoche; Venerable Ajhan Phramaha Prasert (Phra Videsdhammakavi)
The speakers will briefly review the images of ageing and rituals associated with growing old in their respective traditions. Familiarity with the Buddhist worldview and its cultural adaptations, folk beliefs, and traditional healing methods is important for clinicians—medical professionals, social service providers, and caregivers—in order to provide effective care and deliver vital services.
"Encouraging Persons on the Spiritual Pilgrimage: The Integral Role of Communities of Faith" (workshop)
Marty Richards, MSW
Faith communities can affirm and support persons through the challenges of aging--challenges that include finding meaningful retirement roles, dealing with end of life, learning how to serve others, accepting assistance, leaving a spiritual legacy, making transitions, and dealing with caring for another or being cared for. Participants will examine ways to explore such challenges, and will be offered suggestions for implementing responses in their unique situation.
“Person Centeredness and Spiritualty: A Model for Contentment” (lecture)
Peter Bewert, RN, BN; Sharon Callister, RN, BN, MBA
This session will outline a clinical assessment process, implemented from a life style approach, which achieves a holistic framework of care provision that is grounded in each individual’s uniqueness and and spiritual self.
“Dementia, Spirituality and Wellness - A Case Study” (lecture)
Sharon Callister, RN, BN, MBA; Peter Bewert, RN, BN
This case-study presentation will outline the spiritual assessment and care planning process (described in the first part of the session) in action. It will demonstrate how the assessment process not only impacts the individual resident (one with a diagnosis of dementia, strong religious affiliations, and high physical care needs in a residential care environment), but includes care considerations of family, co-residents and staff in order to achieve well-being.
“Old Age, Sickness and Death: The Liberating Practice of the Buddha's 5 Daily Reflections” (workshop)
Betty Harrison, MA, CWWS, CWWPM
Participants will learn the basics of Vipassana/Mindfulness meditation, and go on to learn the 5 Daily Reflections of the Buddha. Group discussion on how and why doing this practice can lead to an experience of being more present in each moment, and how precious each moment is to live as fully as possible, at every age.
“Risk and Resilience - It's Up to Me!” (workshop)
Maureen O’Neill, BA, DMS
In this interactive workshop, we will explore the issues around risk and resilience for older people using the imaginative approach of the board game “snakes and ladders.” This will enable participants to identify key risks for older people, but also consider how older people build resilience in the face of loss, retaining a sense of well-being and buoyancy.
“Hear My Voice: A Spiritual Legacy Pilot Study for Patients with Brain Tumors and Other Neurologic Illnesses” (lecture)
Katherine Piderman, Ph.D, BCC
“Hear My Voice” is a pilot study designed to provide persons with progressive neurologic illnesses an opportunity to review their spirituality with a chaplain in a semi-structured interview, and to prepare a spiritual legacy document. A summary of this process, illustrated with outcomes of 60- and 70-year-old participants with varying spiritual backgrounds and disease types will be provided, as well as preliminary published data.
Round Robin Sessions
“Hope, Hilarity and Harmony: Creating Meaning and Joy for Those with Memory Loss”
Mary Winners, CG
When hope diminishes due to ageing bodies and increased memory loss, many seniors retreat from hobbies or interactions they found satisfying and become isolative and depressed. Our senses can still be encouraged and our souls lifted through human connectedness as we find joy in the human spirit.
“Reiki Therapeutic Touch; a Bridge between Aging and Spirituality in Healthcare”
Tuesday Thomas, Reiki Master, Group Fitness Certified
Therapeutic touch is a means to creating a beneficial environment in which spirituality amongst our elder population may be explored. Participants will learn how to activate life force in their hands and share it with one another.
“Increasing Spirituality through Yoga as We Age”
Carol Hahn, RN
Yoga is a holistic practice that unites our body, mind, breath, and connects us to the spiritual aspect of our lives. This interactive presentation will invite the participants to sample 3 of the 8 branches of yoga. Participants will remain seated, allowing them to modify the practice to meet their needs.
“Leading Spirituality Enhancing Activities for Elders”
Karen Edwards, Ph.D
Gratitude Handout here
Participants will experience and discuss a variety of activities that can be implemented in work with elders to enhance their spiritual experiences (embracing a less materialistic and more transcendent view of life), and will learn to lead a variety of activities such as walking meditation, eating meditation, visualization, forgiveness and letting go rituals.
“Singing For the Soul”
Rev. Victor H. Floyd
Singing is an ancient spiritual practice which commands our attention, reactivates our deepest memories, modulates our stressful dispositions and fosters healthy community. A spiritual discipline, “Singing for the Soul” is about reconnecting ourselves with Spirit, and can be accomplished by anyone who breathes.
“Using Sandplay to Explore Inner States”
Sandi Peters, MA, CPG
Through slides of sand trays created by elders, both with and without memory loss, this session shows the power and potential of using sandplay with elders to help them experience the past and symbolically verbalize the present.
"Disabled and Aging in Conversation with those who are Aging into Permanent/Temporary Disability"
Pastor Gloria Espeseth; Cyndi Jones, M.Div; Patricia Wiedower
"Music and Socialization: Regaining Dignity and Rediscovering Purpose in Life"
Carol Rosenstein, DC, MA, DACBN; Benjamin Nguyen
"Spirituality Attitudes and Practices in Congregate Living Facilities"
James Seeber, D.Min
“The Deconstruction of Suffering: The New Elixir in the Care Continuum”
Dianne Timmering, MBA, MFA, CAN
Wednesday, October 7
Theme: The Pilgrim Way
Plenary: Mary Catherine Bateson, BA, Ph.D
“When Service is Perfect Freedom”
Mary Catherine Bateson is a writer and cultural anthropologist. She has taught at Harvard, Amherst, Spelman and George Mason University in the U.S., and also in Iran and the Philippines. Bateson’s books include With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (1984) and best-selling Composing a Life (1989). Her most recent book, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom, appeared in September 2010, winning the Books for a Better Life prize in psychology. She travels and lectures frequently on aspects of social change, the Abrahamic faiths, and environmental responsibility, and is a visiting scholar at Boston College.
"Transforming Pain and Suffering into a Gift of Love: The Practice of Dedicated Suffering" (lecture)
Jane Thibault, MA, MSSW, Ph.D
This lecture examines traditional ways of viewing suffering, and offers a creative alternative: suffering as a source of loving energy for others. When the energy of suffering is seen as a potential gift for the wellbeing of others, it can become a source of meaning for the one who suffers and for the larger community.
“The Divine Art of Dying: How to Live Well While Dying” (workshop)
Pastor Herbert Anderson, Ph.D
This seminar will address the life-shaping question “How Then Shall I Live?” and explore a spiritual framework for both aging and living-while-dying that includes the following themes; paying attention, embracing the temporary, making commitments, letting go and handing over, being grateful, giving gifts, grieving our losses, trusting the kindness of strangers, sharing stories, and waiting in the Mystery. Like living, growing older and dying is filled with paradox. Guidelines for caregivers will be part of this seminar experience.
“A Croning Ceremony: Supporting Our Elder Sister in Seeking Wisdom” (workshop)
Marita Grudzen, MHS; Patricia Thorne
This is an invitation to women and men to participate in a communal interfaith ritual to celebrate and learn from the wisdom of the eternal female nature at maturity. We will have the chance to look into our own personal stories of aging, and have a central Crone present to initiate and bless. We hope to step across the threshold that is the Crone Herself, claiming our right and ability to integrate these wisdom ways of being together that are not so esoteric or specialized that we can't do it ourselves for one another.
“Jewish Values and Jewish Text as a Lens for Viewing Aging and Service to the Aged” (workshop)
Rabbi Karen Bender
Why is it that in a country (the United States) in which there is often little regard paid to these most vulnerable people in society, the Jewish community and Jewish individuals still put great weight on taking care of their elders? Come to this interactive study of traditional Jewish texts to gain an insight into a Jewish lens and Jewish values as they intersect with interest in the elderly.
“The Role of Forgiveness in Older Age” (lecture)
Rev. James Oberle, Ph.D
This session will explore the role of forgiveness in later life. It will define forgiveness; examine who has the ability to forgive; propose a list of people who perhaps need to be forgiven; outline the process of forgiveness; develop the idea of forgiveness as enlightened self-interest; reflect on the difficult cases; and provide an extended bibliography on the topic.
“Hope and Healing for Alzheimer's” (workshop)
Rev. Dr. Jade Angelica
“Hope and Healing for Alzheimer's” teaches creative, effective methods that may enlighten and inspire even seasoned caregivers. Combining information about dementia with techniques for communicating, connecting and caring that are drawn from improvisational theatre, this spirited, experiential presentation offers skill-training that can improve the quality of life for persons with
Alzheimer's and their caregivers.