Spirituality and Aging

August 14, 2017

Spirituality and Aging

As Americans grow older, many begin to rethink and reconnect with their spirituality. The sense of satisfaction that results from that connection can lead to an improved sense of well-being, comfort, and an overall happiness.

Of course, this isn’t exactly news to generations of caregivers. Many have noticed a deepening sense of faith and spirituality as their loved ones grew older.

Now, however, there’s a growing interest in the relationship between spirituality and aging.

One reason for the growing interest in this area is the ever-mounting evidence that tapping into your spiritual side can produce health benefits.

Spirituality Can Improve the Well-Being of Older Adults

The connection between health and spirituality has been shown to be especially beneficial for older adults, who often enjoy a surprising array of benefits when they develop their spiritual sides.

Here’s what researchers are discovering in the exciting field of what’s often known as ‘happiness studies’. This name comes from the notion that what makes us happy also helps us to age well. For many older Americans, feeling spiritual or religious provides a pathway to happiness.

What Does it Mean to be Spiritual?

Getting in touch with your spiritual side can take many different forms. For some seniors it’s a walk in the woods, communing with nature and feeling connected to something on a universal level. Others take a more religious approach and its church-going that connects them to a higher power. For others, it’s time spent alone, immersed in deep reflection.

Whatever a person’s preferred method of maintaining a spiritual life might be, the results have been shown in scientific studies to be very beneficial.

How Does Spirituality Improve Health?

A study out of Florida tested the theory that older Americans use prayer to cope with stress. The results were stunning! They found it to be overwhelmingly true with 96 percent of seniors in the study reporting they used prayer specifically for stress management. What’s more, 84 percent said they used prayer more than all other alternative remedies for maintaining health.

Of course, prayer isn’t the only path to spirituality or finding God. Whatever form it may take, however, spirituality involves a core set of practices. These practices are what lead to better health, say researchers.

Scientists Say These Spiritual Practices That Can Lead to Better Health

  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Prayer
  5. Compassion
  6. Gratitude
  7. Social Support
  8. Love
  9. Generosity

From healing faster after surgery to experiencing stronger immune systems and lower rates of depression, studies show that seniors with strong religious and spiritual beliefs enjoy a wide range of health benefits.

Spirituality, Faith, and Legacy Senior Living Values

These connections are why senior living communities offer residents opportunities for developing their spiritual sides. Here at Legacy Senior Living, our chaplaincy program is just part of our overall commitment to the well-being of our residents.

Each community has a chaplain who serves the ministerial needs of the residents and their families, as well as team members. Visiting multiple times throughout the week, the chaplains are involved in a number of ways with the community, getting to know everyone.

The Legacy Senior Living network of chaplains is overseen by our corporate chaplain program coordinator.

As you can see, faith is one of the four core values that help us live up to the standards we’ve set for all our communities. Along with honor, respect, and integrity, faith is one of the four pillars of the Legacy philosophy of serving the residents who choose to live in our communities.