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FORSA’s Core Provides Insights for All
posted 06.02.2015

The Forum on Religion Spirituality and Aging (FORSA), a constituent group of the American Society on Aging, has long advocated for addressing older people's spirituality as an essential component to providing creative, integrated and effective wholistic services to older adults. Older adults' spirituality is the sum total of all their past experiences, all dreamed dreams, all struggles that expanded personal insight, all happy moments, all successes and failures. Rather than being only a part of an older adult’s life experience, spirituality is the core, affecting all domains of life, even as their core is affected by those same domains (see diagram). A person does not need to be religious to be spiritual. In fact it is the physical, sociological and psychological changes in the later years that evoke reflection on one’s core beliefs—one’s spirituality.

Over its 22-year history, FORSA has become known for the depth as well as the breath of our Constituent Group program that happens at the Aging in America conferences. Because the 2016 conference will be held in Washington, DC, FORSA’s Constituent Group Program will investigate “Spirituality and Public Policy.”  Keynote will be a yet-to-be-named member of Congress.  We are seeking workshops consistent with this theme.

Teaming with James Ellor and Beverly Johnson-Miller, my workshop will explore “Spirituality and the Separation of Church and State.” But there are many other potential topics, such as: “Spirituality and the Older Americans Act” or ”Spirituality in 202(8) Housing” or even “Spirituality and the Politics of Government.”

But submittals do not need explore only that topic. The opportunity remains to present in the Religion and Spirituality track. Possible topics: sharing a best practice; the role of spirituality in addressing the LGBTQ community; how addressing spirituality can help make skilled care more home-like and attractive to potential residents; exploring how looking at spiritual can make residential programming more interesting and useful.

Please join with me and hundreds of others and present at Aging in America. If you have never done so, this is the year to do it. For veteran presenters, consider partnering with a person who is new to ASA or FORSA. Believe me, it is both fun and rewarding.

Donald Koepke is chair of FORSA Editorial Board.

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