Traditional Health Beliefs of Elderly Greek Australians

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Almost uniformly, elderly Greek Australians describe health as absolute happiness, as their most significant and important possession, a treasure, a gift from God. Among the Greek elderly, health is something that is closely linked to religion and God, as they conceptualize their health as a manifestation of God’s will. This group largely perceives their state of health to be an aspect of fate that they do not have control over and that must simply be accepted as their lot in life. As a result, they do not understand poor health to be a punishment or trial. Instead, it is to be accepted and coped with as part of the natural order of things. This paper will describe the ways in which religious beliefs define a conceptualization of health held by many of elderly Greeks in Melbourne, Australia, and discuss how their religion supports their ability to cope with and accommodate to ill health associated with increasing age.


Keywords: Traditional Health Beliefs, Elderly Greek Australians, Fate, God, Religion
Stream: Sociological and Demographic Perspectives on Aging
Presentation Type: 15 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Traditional Health Beliefs of Elderly Greek Australians


Maria-Irini Avgoulas

Associate Lecturer, School of Public Health
Faculty of Health Science, La Trobe University

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Maria Avgoulas is currently employed at Latrobe University in Melbourne, Australia and holds the role of associate lecturer in the School of Public Health. Maria’s previous clinical experience includes several years of working in health (acute hospital settings and in-patient psychiatry). She was also employed for a number of years with Centrelink, an Australian government statutory agency. Maria has a wide range of research interests including culture, health, mental health, chronic illness among the elderly, public health and health promotion.

Dr. Rebecca Fanany

Lecturer, School of Publich Health
Faculty of Health Science, La Trobe University

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Rebecca Fanany is a lecturer in public health at Latrobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is a very experienced teacher and speaker, and has published two books and numerous articles about language, culture and health. She is currently writing a textbook on health and the social context.

Ref: J12P0004