Seniors And Spirituality - Health Benefits of Faith

By Darrell Griffin


Based on an article: Heather Geller 

Spirituality is an important part of the life of many peoples and becomes even more important with age. A study by the University of Chicago found that belief in God increases with age, especially among those over 68. For this reason, faith practices are associated with a variety of health benefits. Spirituality, for example, can improve the quality of life of seniors with dementia. Spiritual connections can also enhance seniors "well-being, especially if their senior living community supports faith practices.


According to the International Psychogeriatric Association, religion can help to slow the cognitive decline and reduce or stabilize cognitive disorders. The use of spirituality in daily life can enable dementia sufferers to maintain relationships, maintain hope and find meaning. Dementia may mask a need for spirituality, but in reality, in my experience, cognitive impairment does not eclipse our innate need for inner peace and comfort as human beings through prayer and ritual, says Dr. J.P.  

Another advantage of spirituality is a strong sense of community that underlies most faith groups. People establish and strengthen relationships with people of faith, whether by attending group services or praying together with friends.  



Opportunities for social interaction are particularly important for seniors who are at risk of becoming isolated in old age. Social bonds can be comforting in difficult times. Staying social does not only reduce loneliness and depression, but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer.  

Many seniors are coping with the loss of their spouse or loved one. Others deal with their own illness or mortality. Faith can provide a support system to deal with these difficult issues. For residents with end-of-life problems, "some may have unpleasant experiences from the past that need to be somehow reconciled," says Sister Karen. 

A supportive spiritual environment can help minimize suffering and move one toward acceptance and resolution. The benefits of spirituality for seniors are obvious. Some seniors do not identify with a particular religion, but consider themselves deeply spiritual.    


The idea of connection offers hope and support, she says, complementing the idea of the well-being of mind, body and spirit.