After the Reval, we must see to the needs of our elders.
I presume that, for other religions, we’d need to substitute mosque-goers, synagogue-goers, etc.
Does Going to Church Help Seniors Live Longer?
Jason Lewis Strongwell.org [email protected]
In January 2018, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a Minister of Loneliness to help with the country’s growing problem amongst senior citizens. While the title sounds like something from the pages of Harry Potter, the problem is anything but fiction.
Research has found that about 200,000 older people in Britain had not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. The problem isn’t just in the U.K., either. An AARP survey found that a little over one-third–35 percent– of the survey respondents ages 45 and up were categorized as lonely.
Why is Senior Loneliness a Big Deal?
Isolation and feeling lonely have serious health implications, especially for seniors. Loneliness raises the levels of stress hormones and inflammation in the body. This in turn increases a person’s risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and even suicide attempts. Social isolation is also connected to increased mortality and depression.
Unfortunately, seniors– those among the most vulnerable to illness– are at a higher risk for being lonely. As we age, the people we know and love pass away more frequently. Being a senior also reduces a person’s choices regarding transportation. Many seniors lose their driver’s licenses due to muscular degeneration, reduced reflexes, and mobility issues. There is also the modern issue of the technology gap between generations. While younger people spend the same amount of time alone, they have the knowledge and skills to use e-mail, chat, apps, and other technological methods of communication to connect with peers.
Attending Church and Good Health
For many seniors, church services provide much needed socialization and a sense of community that help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. Beyond connecting at Sunday services, churches provide resources for other social activities including volunteering, clubs, and special events. Plus, the common passion and religion that brings people together in a church gives seniors a sense of belonging and understanding that helps to boost self-esteem and prevents feelings of depression.
Attending church is a way to help seniors feel less lonely to help improve their health and prevent illness. However, the benefits are not just for seniors. Academics have long thought that attending church can help a person live longer. Research published in 2016 also found that among 75,000 middle-age female nurses in the United States surveyed, women who went to church more than once a week had a 33% lower risk of dying during the study period compared with those who said they never went. Those who regularly attended religious services also had higher rates of social support and optimism.
There are other factors that may contribute to the longer lives of churchgoers. Those who prescribe to a religion often follow a healthier lifestyle as recommended by their teachings. For instance, in Christianity, the concepts of gluttony and sloth are considered Cardinal Sins. Healthy diets and physical activity are keys to a long and healthy life and can prevent illnesses including diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease– which is the number one cause of death in the United States.
Seniors looking to attend church services have various resources when it comes to transportation:
Community and para-transit services
However, they should also reach out to their house of worship and inquire about transportation options provided. While not all churches have a dedicated transport option for seniors, community members in the church looking for a way to help may be available to help seniors get to service on time.
Loneliness is a major problem for seniors that can lead to both physical and mental illness. Attending church provides seniors with community and social interaction that can help prevent feelings of isolation. By preventing these feelings, church helps seniors live longer and feel happier for the remainder of their lives.