Faith and spirituality are an important part of most people’s lives. Many feel a need to believe in something greater than ourselves. Whether it is religion-based spirituality, faith in nature, or a deep sense of philosophy, many are drawn towards spirituality.
According to a groundbreaking study by the University of Chicago, people aged 68 or older tend to be more religiously involved than the rest of the population.
Seniors tend to focus more on their spirituality as they age. Growing older brings new challenges and experiences, for which science offers exploration and enlightenment, but not comfort. As seniors age, they tend to feel an increasing need to explore and search for answers to the big questions that take center stage, and they often develop their spirituality to proceed on this journey.
Spirituality is good news for seniors. It is more than a religious or philosophical trend for its elderly adherents. It can act as a guidebook for the way to live in peace with oneself and the surrounding world. It fosters an attitude that can help seniors find an inner peace that is helpful for a happier and more meaningful life experience.
However, that’s not all. If researchers are to be believed, this added focus on spirituality can also help maintain and even improve one’s physical and mental health.
Spirituality as a Wellness Tool
By helping alleviate many stress-related health issues, spirituality improved the overall health profile of its adherents. One health aspect into which spirituality seems to be of great aid is mental health. Spiritually minded seniors tend to be more robust mentally. Even patients suffering from dementia seem to benefit from their faith orientation, researchers have found that practicing religion can slow down cognitive decline and even stabilize some cognitive disorders.
Spirituality is a boon for seniors that need to create, maintain, or even enlarge their social network. A shared vision of the world can bring people together. Belief-affirming activities, whether this means attending church or exploring alternate beliefs, can lead to social bonding that is both resilient and close-knit. This sense of community is very comforting and beneficial to seniors with disabilities, who can then lean on each other for help and advice.
The community watches over its members and notices the little mishaps and issues that may affect them, such as early signs of depression or physical ailments. This kind of community, therefore, can be a very effective early warning system that helps keep members within a spiritual community in better health than they would be otherwise.
Something to Look Forward To
Disorientation and lack of organization is an issue that plagues many seniors. Every day can seem to merge into the next due to the routine of daily life. This is one of the factors that can make a senior start to lose his or her bearings. The question “what day is it?” becomes a common one in many nursing homes. Spirituality, however, can be a very effective ally in combatting this sense of timelessness. The rituals surrounding faith and spirituality can offer a useful guideline that can help organize seniors’ lives and make their time more meaningful.
A Sunday visit to church, for example, can become an anchoring date that creates perspective and gives reference to the rest of the week.
Also, it’s worth noting that the experience of faith and spirituality itself can be exciting, entertaining and stimulating all at once. Music, prayers, and rituals can make for an exhilarating spectacle and provide seniors with much-needed entertainment and engagement.
Spirituality and Mortality
Another way that spirituality helps seniors is that it can help them consider their own mortality.
It is an unavoidable fact of life that death lies at the end. Though we can all subject to existential angst at times, seniors are more prone towards this type of reflection; not only because their more advanced age brings them closer to mortality, but also as a result of the proximity of death around them. Even one of their friends or family entering hospice care can be a reminder that death might be closer than they realize.
Being confronted with a diminishing social group due to mortality is a traumatizing experience for most seniors. It can also be a leading cause for depression amongst them. The constant reminder of an uncertain ending can sap one’s morale and hasten mental exhaustion and stress-related issues. Spirituality often manages to mitigate these experiences, however, by giving them meaning and purpose. Spirituality can show us the big picture and our place within it.
For more ideas or tips for boosting your aging loved ones’ wellbeing, contact one of our experienced senior care managers in Nevada.