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Religion Among Elders


Do religious elders have an enhanced quality of life(compared to non-religious elders)?

According to a study by Michele Dillon(University of New Hampshire) and Paul Wink(Wellesley College) religiousness increases the quality of life for elders. According to the researchers, religious seniors:

  1. Are more involved in social activities(ex.- visiting with family and friends, etc.)
  2. Engage in community activities.
  3. Engage in creative activities(ex.- painting, crafts, etc.)

In the area of social responsibility and civic engagement religious seniors are:

  1. More giving and generous toward others.
  2. More aware of and sympathetic to the needs of others.
  3. More involved in social activism.

Those religious seniors in poor physical health were buffered against depression and their faith:

  1. Provided a strong source of meaning and consolation during illness(and other times of adversity).
  2. Lead them to be more satisified with life.
  3. Gave them a stronger sense of having control over their lives.

Those who were highly religious(believed in an afterlife and attended religious services) were least afraid of dying along with secular seniors. But, those who believed in an afterlife and did not attend religious services were the most afraid.

These results were the product of a long term study of about 200 men and women which started in 1958 and continued until about 2000. Paticiipants were interviewed at four different times during the study period.