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Belonging to a community is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Whether seniors spend time with family, old friends or other members of their senior living communities, having someone to trust and confide in may boost well-being and add joy to life. The benefits of community go far beyond mere enjoyment, however. Many seniors can find greater fulfillment by joining a group that corresponds to their beliefs, such as a church. Faith groups can help seniors through hard times and provide companionship when things are going well, and they may also offer the opportunity to reach out to the community at large. Geriatric care managers and other professionals who work with seniors can help their clients find the right fit.
More than faith
Joining a church may have many benefits, but that doesn't mean that any one will suffice. Before deciding on a specific congregation, seniors should take some time to explore their options. Different denominations within a specific faith can have widely varying practices, and individual churches of the same denomination may approach beliefs and services in different ways. Beyond that, older adults should consider the members of a church and the opportunities that it provides for social interaction and outreach before deciding if it's the one for them.
Relevant Magazine offered some ways for people to determine whether their church is the right fit for them. Churches need to suit an individual's conception of their faith, provide the chance for them to contribute in some way and offer the opportunity to socialize, according to the source. Not everyone attends church for the same reasons, and seniors may get the most out of the experience if they choose one that suits their own needs. For instance, seniors who are interested in volunteer work or leading a faith group could get more out of a church that's active in the community than one that's focused mainly on sermons.
While these considerations can inform the decision of a person of any age to join a church, older adults may have additional concerns. Some churches may have congregations made up mostly of seniors and others could have a dearth of older people. Whether it's because the church is difficult for older adults to get to or because it doesn't cater to their needs, churches without many seniors in attendance may not be the best equipped to serve them.
According to The United Methodist Church, older adults should look for a church that has programs specific to seniors as well as those that allow people of all ages to come together. Churches can be a major source of learning and recreation to seniors who are active in the community, so they can shape the lives of their older members in many ways. Some may offer classes, provide meals or create opportunities for volunteer service and faith outreach. Seniors should decide whether these activities are important to them or if they would consider using them in the future. A church that meets an older adult's spiritual needs without providing any other connection to the community may not be the best choice.
Community outside the church
Of course, a church doesn't need to fill these needs for every member. Seniors who aren't religious or just want to find opportunities to socialize outside of their churches should consider joining a community center. According to the National Institute of Senior Centers, these services can offer many benefits to seniors, such as classes, fitness groups and chances to make connections with other older adults and people of any age.