This post comes to us through guest-blogger Jason Lewis. Although much of our energy is focused on reaching younger adults and families, according to the Census Bureau, there are more than 40-million USAmericans over sixty-five years old … and less than 12-million are active in a church. And so, we thought we’d share this post in your congregation’s outreach to your neighbors.

Most people would probably say they attend church to feel closer to God.  They enjoy worshipping with like-minded church-goers, and enjoy the opportunities church provides for serving and connecting with others.  Research shows that for seniors, there are mental and physical health benefits to reap as well.

Improved social support.  One of the terrific benefits to seniors who engage in a church family is the support they receive.  Church members are known to see each other through troubled times by providing meals during illnesses or bereavement, funds during rainy seasons, and a shoulder to cry on.  Churches are even a source of transportation for seniors who no longer drive.  Those who attend church feel they belong to a community, equating to improved quality of life and a sense of belonging.

Better lifestyle choices.  Generally speaking, those who make church attendance part of their lifestyle tend to make healthier choices overall.  Those who embrace biblical teachings know overindulgence and unsavory choices are discouraged.  Some studies show that people who attend church regularly embrace higher moral standards and better manners, making life better for their communities and society as a whole.  Since churches encourage giving of oneself to others, they are more inclined to perform charitable acts and be involved in mentoring or tutoring activities.  Church-goers tend to abuse recreational drugs less, are less inclined to abuse alcohol, are less apt to smoke cigarettes, and are less inclined toward sexual promiscuity.  Also, attending church each week provides accountability, structure and routine.

Physical health benefits.  Attending church may equate to a longer lifespan.  According to The New York Times, one of the health benefits to seniors is an added two to three years of life.  Those who attend church regularly enjoy lowered blood pressure and improved immune systems, with better healing from illnesses and injuries.  They maintain a better attitude, staying more positive when sicknesses or other setbacks come their way.  Some researchers theorize seniors who attend church may also be more mobile, able to remain more active as they age.

Mental and emotional benefits.  Seniors who attend church are less apt to feel stressed or depressed, and they are more likely to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Attending church weekly gives seniors something to look forward to, and those who participate enjoy improved self-esteem and better self-introspection.  The mental and emotional health benefits to seniors are so notable that according to The Independent “people involved with churches, clubs, sports teams and voluntary activities do enjoy better mental health than the rest of the population.”  One study reflects that seniors who are spiritually engaged keep a more positive outlook, reporting better health status than those who are not.  It appears that seniors who attend church regularly are simply happier overall.

The power of prayer.  Spending time in prayer brings benefits of its own to senior church members, as well as to all church members.  As Psychology Today explains, science verifies several benefits of prayer:

  • Better self-control. Prayer can energize you and improve your focus, even when managing tasks that are mentally exhausting.
  • More kindness. Prayer reduces your inclination to be angry, helps with patience, and increases your ability to be forgiving.
  • Improved trust. Praying with others, such as friends and family members, helps you bond and increases your levels of trust.
  • Reduces stress. Praying for others helps reduce stress over financial issues and helps you to focus on God’s power and the needs of others, distracting you from your own issues.

Science, seniors, and church.  While most seniors wouldn’t categorize church attendance as a medical activity, it improves their lives in more ways than strictly spiritual ones.  They benefit from the support they receive, make better lifestyle choices, and enjoy improved overall health and well-being.  Even participating in prayer is a boon.  Science is now able to confirm what many of us already knew: church is good for seniors!

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