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Religion and Aging

In the last few decades there has been increasing interest in the positive relationship between aging and spirituality. Scientists have concluded that spirituality increases with age when we become more in tune with becoming “human beings” rather than “human doings.”

For many, having a rich spiritual life is key to a vital old age, and studies indicate there is a strong connection with spirituality, and emotional and physical health. Those who have strong religious practices are shown to live an average of seven years longer than non-practicing elders. They are also less likely to succumb to illness and depression.

 

A recent study that followed 21,000 adults for nine years showed that religious attendance is a strong predictor of survival, even taking into account other factors such as education and higher incomes. Some believe that people who are in better health attend church more frequently but in reality studies show that people with poor health attend more often. Frequent church attendees also make healthier life choices such as better diet, smoking cessation, exercising and having more social contact which adds to their physical and emotional health.

Fundamental to increased wellbeing is an individual’s ability to cope with life’s stresses. A major problem for seniors is loss and loneliness. Over 90% of seniors report that their religion plays a major role in their ability to deal with life events.

Along with providing spiritual support faith based communities provide important social networks for the elderly with social groups, education, transportation and information. Many seniors choose to become more involved, and studies show that over 50% of volunteer work in churches is performed by seniors. This enhances feelings of self-worth, belonging and usefulness that are so important to a healthy emotional life. A rich spiritual life is important to us all, but is particularly important in later years.

There are many churches and religious communities in the Austin area designed to meet senior’s needs. Recommendations from friends and neighbours can be very helpful. Listings of churches are available at www.usachurch.com and remember that if transportation is a problem most will have transportation available. There is also a volunteer organization, Faith in Action which provides transportation in the Austin area for seniors. They can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (512)472 6339.

Stay healthy and I wish you well in your spiritual search in 2012.

Member of these organizations.

Trusted Professionals Helping You Navigate Bills, Budgets, and Record KeepingProviding the premier education and credential for professionals serving seniorsAmerica's Directory of Elder Care and Senior Care Resources for Baby Boomers and their Aging ParentsAn organization of highly competent and trustworthy individuals who specialize in providing professional services for seniors and their families

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