We may all dream of our golden years when the stresses of work and raising kids are behind us. But, in reality, senior citizens not only experience a tremendous amount of stress and negative emotions, but also have fewer ways to combat them. Whether they live at home or in an assisted living community, they may struggle with feelings of loneliness, sadness, depression and boredom. According to Merck Manual, studies show that seniors who attend church have improved psychological and physical health. Read on to discover the ways that church attendance can help seniors deal with the difficulties associated with this stage of life.
Due to life circumstances that may be unique to their age or health concerns, elderly people often confront a variety of emotions or mindsets that may be somewhat debilitating and hard to bear. These include a sense of isolation, loneliness, boredom, and grief, as well as others. Because seniors often feel like they have no one to turn to, their depression can fester and ultimately lead to risky behavior including substance abuse. It has been shown that involvement in a religious community contributes to overall better mental health in the general community. For seniors, church attendance can be crucial for helping them deal with their negative emotions by promoting a general positive and hopeful mindset. It can prevent them from dwelling in negativity when dealing with a difficult illness or the loss of a spouse, for example.
Going to church is not only about the uplifting sermon, but also about the community it offers its members. Being part of a church community gives seniors a sense of belonging and purpose that helps to combat depression and loneliness.
Overall, people who attend church have better physical and mental health, and, in the elderly, church attendance is associated with lower mortality rates. While it is not entirely clear why that is, several factors may be at play.
The positive mindset that churchgoers typically have seems to contribute to their overall better health. Positivity has actually been shown to help people recover more quickly from surgery and illness, proving that the mind-body connection is real. This positivity gained from church attendance can actually behave as a powerful medication for seniors struggling with or recovering from an illness.
Church attendance also seems to give seniors better health by providing coping mechanisms for dealing with any number of hardships. Studies suggest that the use of coping mechanisms contributes to better health. Whether seniors are dealing with the loss of a loved one, isolation or a difficult illness, having a coping mechanism, such as prayer, can prevent them from becoming stressed, anxious or depressed about it, which can only make things worse.
Another reason that churchgoers are healthier than non-churchgoers could be that church attendance encourages healthy living. Whether the religion actually forbids certain unhealthy practices, such as meat or alcohol consumption, or just encourages everything in moderation, church attendance encourages people to treat their body well, which is crucial for the elderly.
Studies show that seniors need activity in their lives to help ward off isolation and depression. Church attendance and church-based events provide not only something for seniors to do and look forward to, but also invaluable social connections for them. Seniors who are socially connected to other people have lower rates of dementia and general cognitive decline, higher motor functioning and a better ability to care for themselves than isolated seniors.
Of course, COVID-19 has caused some problems with regard to church attendance, especially for seniors. Thankfully, StreamingChurch.tv allows people from all walks of life to worship together from the comfort of their homes. Seniors who don’t have a laptop to use for these services can find affordable options through companies such as Lenovo. And for seniors who don’t enjoy watching things on a smaller screen (though you can find computers that take vision problems into consideration), they can use Roku or Apple TV on their television.
Church attendance clearly provides countless benefits for seniors. It promotes better mental health by encouraging a positive mindset and giving them social support. Also, because of the mind-body connection and the promotion of appropriate coping mechanisms and healthy living, church attendance leads to better overall physical health and lower mortality rates in the elderly. Finally, church attendance gives seniors the social interaction that they need to keep them both physically and mentally active. Whether or not seniors believe in a higher power, they should consider becoming members of the church, synagogue or mosque of their choice for increased health, happiness and longevity.