Religion helps to keep one grounded when dealing with adversity. Religion can serve as a coping tool to keep elders involved and connected to their community. When facing depression, religion has shown to increase the well- being of an individual because it allows them to connect with people on a spiritual level, communicate with others that you may not see during the week due to busy work schedules, and most importantly, make you feel a part of a community of people who share a common belief as you. Church is a place where members can find activity, routines and relationships that provide a source of identity and purpose.
Pastors/ Priests and other church members provide support when dealing with psychological distress. Pastors/ Priests become a friend/ family like figure which is beneficial towards individuals who may not have family.
Prayer has been shown to be a beneficial tool for long term religious elders. People who engaged in the practice of a prayer wheel showed a decrease in their depressive state. Prayer is used to grow closer to God, and to receive from Him as a source of comfort and reassurance that no matter if they have strong social support or not, someone is always watching over them. Engaging in daily prayers brings a calming and relieving sensation which allows the elder to feel that someone is listening and they are heard.
Practicing spirituality has several health outcomes. It has been shown to have a calming sensation which leads to lower blood pressure and an influence to quit bad habits. A typical activity to calm ones nerves is simply the act of clearing one’s mind by reading the bible.
Suicide is seen as the greatest sin. Depression and feeling helpless are common in elderly people. With the consciousness that God does not want you to kill yourself and that he is always there to support you, suicide rates are decreased.
Meaning promotes a well-being in late life. Religion provides an individual with the reassurance that their life is meaningful. Meaning offers a better understanding of life’s challenges, which in return helps to build a sense of direction and purpose in life. Religious meaning attaches a responsibility towards one’s life. When individuals know that God is always watching over them, they are less likely to engage in harmful behaviors.
Faith has the power to perform health miracles. Healing rituals have a significant effect on activating the body’s ability to heal itself and others that we pray for.
Forgiveness: The feeling of forgiveness by God has a strong positive effect on the psychological well-being of an elder. Having a sense of forgiveness by God allows individuals to move on and not dwell on the sins they may have committed.
Examples of Discussion questions:
- In your small group, share your religious/ spiritual backgrounds and the influence it has had on your life, and your family members.
- What types of rituals do you perform when you or someone in your family is ill?