Sociology Faculty Publications


There is some evidence for a positive association between spirituality, cognitive, and behavioral functioning in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, to our knowledge there is no published data to date that provides an explanatory model for these findings. Twenty-eight individuals with mild AD received in-depth interviews and measures of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and spiritual functioning to gain insight into this question in this mixed methods study. Findings revealed that people with mild AD can actively engage in meaningful discussion about how spirituality influences their experience of living with AD; that they remain deeply devoted to a relationship with the transcendent (i.e., God, higher power, spirit) and their spiritual communities; that they value and benefit from the sacred aspects of their day-to-day lives; and that their core spiritual values, beliefs, and practices can be activated to help them adapt to the uncertainty of living with AD. Additionally, persons with AD who are experiencing spiritual struggle tend to experience a greater degree of anxiety, depression, and behavioral changes as compared to those who do not, suggesting that spiritual struggle is a risk factor for poorer outcomes in this population. Implications for future research, clinical practice, and community care are provided including how researchers and clinicians can effectively adapt traditional measures of spirituality for use with this population; the importance of integrating spirituality into the assessment and treatment of people with AD; and the role spiritual communities

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source Publication

Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion


Published Version

Publication Date




First Page


Last Page



© 2013 Koninklijke Brill


For questions contact