The Senior Health Benefits Of Going To Church: By Jason Lewis
Many seniors in America deal with physical, mental, and emotional health issues everyday, and for some, the weight of living alone or having to move into an assisted living facility is too big to bear. They may battle depression, anxiety, stress, fear, or isolation; they may feel like they are a burden to their loved ones. It’s difficult to know how to help when these feelings take over, especially if you live far away and can’t visit often.
However, there are some simple ways to help your loved one stay healthy, active, and vital in his community. One of the most popular includes getting involved at church, which can open up a new world of social relationships and help a senior feel included and important. Church members can also help seniors when they become ill, need help at home, or find themselves without a ride to the doctor. This will not only assist your loved one, it will give you peace of mind when you can’t be there. Here are a few of the best ways church can help your senior loved one.
Many seniors have trouble staying active, either due to health or mobility issues or because they don’t want to exercise alone. Going to church can help them get up and get moving, and many churches offer workout groups for various ages, allowing like-minded peers to get together for some healthy activity. Alternatively, churchgoers who have enrolled in certain Medicare Advantage plans can gain access to different workout facilities via the SilverSneakers program without any additional charges, allowing them to easily work out together.
One of the best things about church groups is that they offer a place for individuals to learn the joys of giving back to the community, whether it’s through organizing a Thanksgiving meal or simply collecting warm coats for the homeless in winter. Getting involved in these activities will help your loved one feel needed, included, and part of something bigger, which will boost his self-esteem and keep him happy as he works with others to make change.
Studies have shown that going to church can reduce stress and even possibly increase lifespan, in part because it allows individuals to feel that they are doing something proactive with their lives rather than focusing on guilt or anxiety. Removing stress from a senior’s life can have a huge effect on their day-to-day as well as their future health.
"Our study suggests that for health, the benefits outweigh the potentially negative effects," says Professor Tyler J. VanderWeele.
Going to church can help some people find discipline, organize their day more easily, and learn to stay focused on the task. It can also strengthen character and boost self-esteem, allowing seniors to see their own value by forming bonds with others who share the same beliefs. These mental-health benefits vary in adults, but they are almost always positive.
For seniors who have lost a loved one — especially if the loved one was a partner — finding peace afterward can be difficult or even impossible. This time period can often include depression and all the things that come with it, such as changes in sleeping and eating habits, social isolation, and failure to properly take care of the body and mind. Attending church can change all that, allowing a senior to find peace and solace in their beliefs or just in their friendships with fellow churchgoers.
Many seniors all over the world have found that belonging to a church that accepts them and is willing to help them in times of hardship allows them to feel needed and loved, which can in turn positively affect their ability to stay healthy and vital. Talk to your loved one about finding a church group that’s right for them, and consider joining too as a show of solidarity.