Guest writer to our blog, Jason Lewis is the primary caregiver for his mother and in recent years he’s noticed what an impact church attendance has had. “Going to church and participating in church activities has helped her stay both mentally and physically active. I’d love to spread the word about that and offer additional tips on improving physical, mental, and spiritual health for seniors.”
There are several reasons why you should consider attending church: For spiritual guidance, to worship, for fellowship and more. But did you know it’s good for your health? Studies have shown that attending a house of worship is good for the health of older adults. Science cannot entirely explain why these health benefits occur, but that shouldn't stop you from discovering for yourself.
Studiesshow that attending services helps reduce stress, which has many health benefits, including improvement in blood pressure, mental health and preventing chronic disease. It might not seem like it, but more than 50 percent of Americans attend church services once a month. So, should you attend church? That’s your call. But it can be healthy for you.
Reasons for attending services in a faith community can help older adults.
Mindfulness, usually associated with meditation, which also has a place in a religious service. When you’re mindful, you’re focusing on what’s happening at that very moment, not yesterday or tomorrow. It can be difficult to make ourselves focus on the here and now, especially if we’re going through a transition as life-changing as addiction recovery. But taking even a few minutes a day to be mindful of all we have in the present moment -- and especially all we have to be grateful for -- can help us feel more at peace with ourselves, our surroundings, and our circumstances.
Studies have shown that attending services can give you a better outlook on life and illness. By boosting your mood, it is setting you up positively for the rest of your week. Older adults often experience isolation when they move into a retirement home, feeling lost without their home and family. Attending church can get you out of the house and into a social setting, making you feel better.
Some studies have shown that those who attend church or synagogue live longer than others. One possible reason is the reduced stress, as mentioned above, but another theory is that the effect of religiosity has protective benefits to the heart. It can also help you live longer if you believe that your life has meaning, and who doesn’t want that?
We all have various communities in our lives. Work, home, neighborhoods and more. A faith community can be there for you when others are not. Senior adults benefit from having a community to depend on when they need it. Communities also get you out of the house and engaged. You can attend social gatherings, card groups, knitting or crochet groups, exercise classes, Bible or Torah study and more. Being surrounded by other people and just having someone to talk to can make your life better in meaningful ways.
5. It can give you a purpose.
A faith community can get you involved in volunteerism and social justice, which take you out of your own needs to help others. The feeling of being needed or that someone depends on you can be an excellent boost to your self-esteem and a sense of purpose, giving you a specific reason to get out of bed in the morning.
No matter where you are at in your walk with God, we invite you to experience the numerous benefits outlined above. You’ll likely feel fresh and recharged for the following week, and hopefully better able to take care of your health. Your body will thank you.