Chapter 35: Faith-based organizations and the provision of care for older people
The global, accelerated growth and increased longevity of the older population is a continually emerging and important issue to understand and address. This worldwide graying of populations has broad-reaching socioeconomic, psychosocial and medical implications. Central to these implications is the adequate provision and quality of sustainable services. In an effort to address the needs of this growing segment of the population, the Madrid International Plan of Action, adopted by the Second World Assembly on Aging (United Nations, 2002) focused on three areas: (1) older people and their development; (2) provisions for advancing health and well-being during old age; and (3) creation of positive strategies that enable supportive environments for the elderly. For Second World Assembly member countries such as the USA, identifying and implementing ways to successfully integrate these three priority areas to provide quality services is an intricate and challenging undertaking. One avenue for providing services where elderly development, health and well-being, and supportive environments coincide is faith-based organizations (FBOs). Religious groups have a longstanding history of providing social services and community development activities that promote community empowerment (Bartkowski and Regis, 2003; Billingsley, 2003; Chaves and Higgins, 1992; Harris, 1999; Unruh and Sider, 2005). FBOs serve an even more critical role for vulnerable and marginalized elderly populations, particularly during this period of worldwide economic challenges when the need for alternative approaches is even more evident in terms of health and well-being – specifically health care.
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