Traditional Health Beliefs of Elderly Greek Australians
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
Dr Maria-Irini Avgoulas
Associate Lecturer, School of Public Health
Dr. Rebecca Fanany
Lecturer, School of Publich Health