Is Spirituality Linked to Senior Health?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 14, 2019
Is Spirituality Linked to Senior Health?
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Does connecting with your spiritual side help you live a healthier life? Older adults are increasingly asking themselves this question. Researchers believe the answer is “yes.” Adults who have a strong sense of spirit tend to be healthier.

Keep in mind that spirituality doesn’t always mean religion. Some highly spiritual people aren’t connected with an organized religion. Others belong to a religious organization and find spirituality within the framework of their religion’s core beliefs.

Difference between Religion and Spirituality

Religion and spirituality share a strong conviction that there is more to the universe than meets the eye. Both value meaning and connection.

Spirituality and religion differ in how they approach this journey. Those who are religious and belong to an organized religion follow the dogmas and beliefs of the group and its founders. By contrast, people who consider themselves spiritual believe in creating their own path and finding their own truths.

Older adults who are religious, spiritual, or both seem to be healthier on a variety of fronts.

The Health Benefits of Connecting with Spirit

According to Psychology Today, adults who have a strong belief in a higher power or a sense that there is a higher being often live healthier lives.

The benefits of a connection to spirit include:

  • living a happier, more fulfilled life
  • experiencing lower incidences of stress and depression
  • feeling more resilient and better able to cope with challenges
  • having stronger, more positive family relationships.

Some researchers say these benefits can be linked to the sense of peace and purpose that comes from believing you are part of a greater plan.

If you are an older adult who is just beginning a spiritual journey, know that there is no one way to go about it. Many experts say the key is to follow the direction your spirit is encouraging you to take.

Activities That Nurture the Spirit

Here are a few activities that might help you tap into your spiritual side:

  • Explore the arts: You don’t need Monet- or Picasso-level talent to reap the rewards associated with art-related activities. The process of creating allows people to connect with their spirit. Take a watercolor workshop at a local senior center. Watch YouTube videos on drawing, knitting, or weaving to learn a new hobby.
  • Discover music: The therapeutic benefits of music therapy are well-documented. It has the power to connect people with emotions and memories long forgotten. Music can also be a way to calm the mind and connect with spirit. Whether it is quietly meditating to sounds of the ocean or learning how to play guitar, music can be a powerful spiritual tool.
  • Journal to connect: If you’ve never tried it before, you might be surprised to discover how much journaling can help you connect with your innermost feelings. That can lead you to spiritual discovery as well. This article has tips for journaling and how to get started.
  • Get back to nature: Activities that bring you closer to Mother Nature can also help you advance your spiritual discovery. Gardening, even if it is only patio containers or window boxes, is an enjoyable way of connecting with spirit. Birdwatching and nature walks are other ideas.

Live With Reflection at Sunrise Senior Living

At Sunrise, our eight signature Live With Purpose programs provide seniors with opportunities to engage, enjoy, express, learn, and grow each day. In Live With Reflection, our communities encourage residents’ spirituality through meditation, prayer groups, and other means of peaceful expression. Watch this video to learn more!

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