Spiritual Needs of Older Adults Living with Dementia: An Integrative Review

Katherine Carroll Britt, Augustine C.O. Boateng, Hui Zhao, Francesca C. Ezeokonkwo, Chad Federwitz, Fayron Epps

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Older adults living with dementia experience progressive decline, prompting reliance on others for spiritual care and support. Despite a growing interest in studying persons living with dementia (PLwDs), empirical evidence on the spiritual needs of PLwDs has not been synthesized. Using the Whittemore and Knafl method, this integrative review examined the literature from 2000 to 2022 on the spiritual care needs of PLwDs. We sought to identify characteristics of the spiritual needs of PLwDs and ways to address them. The ATLA Religion, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Socindex databases were used to search the literature, and 12 peer-reviewed articles met the inclusion criteria. Spiritual care needs varied across studies. Overall, findings support the importance of identifying PLwDs’ religious and spiritual backgrounds to inform person-centered care. Spiritual needs were identified as verbal and non-verbal expressions related to past meaning and religious and spiritual background and were not consistently addressed in care. Providers reported observing spiritual distress in the mild stage prompting the need for spiritual care. There is a great need for dementia-specific spiritual assessment tools and spiritual care interventions to support spiritual well-being in dementia care. Spiritual care involves facilitating religious rituals and providing spiritual group therapy and religious and spiritual activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1319
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer’s
  • connectedness
  • meaning
  • peace
  • spiritual care
  • spiritual support
  • successful aging
  • unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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