Religion And Medicine To Merge In Dealing With Health Care For Elderly

In 2001, America will be forced to look within the religious community and the health care industry for creative methods to address the coming health crisis among its rapidly growing elderly population, predicts The University of Alabama’s Dr. Michael Parker.

“Who will care for the growing number of chronically ill older adults in America who fall through the ever-widening cracks in an overwhelmed health-care system?” asks Parker, a gerontologist and assistant professor of social work. “Many of these aging people are going to end up on the doors of religious establishments and organizations.

“We will see a continued, marked reversal to the separation of spirituality, religion and medicine that has occurred over the past two centuries,” says Parker. “There will be a growing realization within the health care industry and among religious organizations that the spiritual dimension can help bridge the gap between our medical discoveries and how we live.”

Parker said health care costs are rising earlier than experts had predicted. “The alarming fact is that this rapid increase in costs is occurring before the dramatic rise in number of older persons resulting from the aging of the baby boom cohort,” he said.

Parker said one reason these partnerships can occur is that medical science is more accepting of the relationship between spirituality and health, based on more than four decades of research.

“A person’s spirituality appears to enable them, when sick ­ particularly with a serious medical illness ­ to cope better and to ‘grow’ psychologically from their health experience, rather than becoming depressed or defeated by the health crisis.”


Dr. Michael Parker, 205/348-6766 (office);