Millions of Americans regularly attend church each year, and a good portion of those millions are made up of senior citizens. Seniors who attend church are known to experience several benefits that are hard to gain from elsewhere. Indeed, attending church seems to present a unique source of stimulation that can vastly improve the lives of individuals in their later years. Here are four of the main benefits seniors receive from regularly attending church.
1. Church Fulfills a Physical Need
The sad truth for many of our elderly, is that they are often limited to a life as a homebody, due to a lack of physical strength, or an inability to safely drive themselves around town. This means that for the majority of their later years, seniors are resigned to their home, moving room to room, or hardly moving at all. As you can imagine, such a sedentary lifestyle can have a negative impact on the human body. Movement keeps our bodies running regularly, and promotes overall wellness.
By regularly attending church services, luncheons, and community events, seniors are enabled to get up and active, even if it’s just walking down the street to get picked up by a church shuttle bus. This additional physical activity pays dividends down the road, and will promote better health for many years to come.
2. Church Fulfills a Social Need
The reason many people of all ages regularly attend church functions, is for the chance to be a part of a larger, positive church community. Churches all across America boast a wide range of closely knit communities filled with individuals who care and look out for each other. Being part of a community can be a very valuable thing for an elderly individual. Oftentimes, seniors are isolated and may only regularly interact with a small handful of family and friends. Attending church allows seniors to branch out and meet new people of all ages. Injecting new relationships in the later stages of life can be a huge motivational spark that promotes positivity and benefits overall mental wellness.
3. Church Fulfills a Mental Need
Due to life circumstances that may be unique to their age or health concerns, elderly people often confront a variety of emotions or mindsets that may be somewhat debilitating and hard to bear. These include a sense of isolation, loneliness, boredom, and grief, as well as others. As we age, we can still carry around the same anxieties, frustrations, and depression that we felt when we were younger. Sometimes new anxieties and depression can emerge from old age itself, which often leads way to negative behaviors such as self-harm or addiction to alcohol and other substances. In many ways, attending church can eliminate many of these negative emotions and mindsets, giving way to new positivity and motivation to set goals and be a better person.
4. Church Fulfills a Spiritual Need
Most of all, church fulfills a need for spirituality that becomes so pertinent in the later years of life. After experiencing so much in an entire lifespan, we can often look back and wonder what it was all for. We think about the ups and downs we experienced, the lives we touched along the way, the people that left us. Looking ahead, the elderly will have a lot of questions about what happens once the stories of their life come to a close. Religion gives answers to these questions, and with these answers also arises a general sense of peace.
This peace that church provides can provide seniors with calm, understanding, and a general sense of purpose. It helps them accept where they are at in their own life, and gives them a direction to follow until the very end. This alone can be a very powerful guiding force to dramatically improve the outlook and wellness of seniors.
These four benefits are just a broad summation of the good that attending church can bring into the lives of seniors. The best way to really grasp how church can change lives is by simply building up the courage to go and see what it’s like.