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Coping with functional disability among the elderly by means of religious beliefs

Wagner Jorge dos Santos Karla Cristina Giacomin Josiane Katherine Pereira Josélia de Oliveira Araújo Firmo About the authors

The way people deal with the stress of life is known as the process of coping or confrontation. We speak of religious coping when a person uses religious belief and behavior to facilitate problem solving, to prevent or alleviate stressful negative emotional consequences, notable among which is functional disability. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of religion as a strategy for coping with disability among the elderly. A qualitative approach, consisting of an observational ethnographic study was employed, the sample for which included 57 elderly individuals from Bambuí, Minas Gerais. The model of signs, significances and actions was used in collecting and analyzing data. The religiosity of the elderly respondents suggested that their religious beliefs and traditions help explain and address the suffering experienced by them in the presence or imminence of functional disability. Religious coping reinforces the fatalism existing in the religious belief that mirrors the inevitability of old age with disability as an accepted and natural social code, but also helps to minimize the social responsibility for the care of the elderly and reveals the disbelief in existing public health services.

Religious coping; Elderly; Functional disability; Public health services

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