For many years, people have been concerned about achieving healthy aging and maintaining general wellness and well-being in older adults. While improved medical approaches and remedies have been continuously developed to help humans prolong life expectancy, staying connected to spirituality has been considered to affect seniors’ overall quality of life positively.
Working on spiritual health benefits people of all ages, but several pieces of evidence indicate that seniors practicing spirituality experience boosted well-being in many ways.
What does spirituality practice have anything to do with seniors? Discover spiritual health benefits when your parents learn to embrace their spirituality during retirement.
Spiritual Health Benefits: How Does Spirituality Practice Make Your Parents Healthier and Livelier?
Religion vs. Spirituality: Are They the Same?
Before diving into the benefits of spiritual health in senior care, reviewing the concepts of spirituality versus religion is crucial.
In the world of human diversity and complexity, the line drawn between the terms “spirituality” and “religion” can be fluid, with most people using the words interchangeably.
For example, some people are religious but not necessarily spiritual, and vice versa. Some define being sacred as objective and focusing on the externals, whereas being spiritual is subjective and leans towards discovering and understanding one’s self and internalization.
However, these definitions could be vague to some individuals and vastly different depending on their perspective on how the world operates. At the end of the day, keep in mind that two terms are not the same even though they aren’t diametrical opposites.
What is the difference between spirituality and religion?
By definition, religion is a specific personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices, usually involving ritual and devotional observances and containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
In other words, religion is associated with a fundamental belief or an action of worshiping or praising a higher pow, intrinsically linked to historical figures or archetypes. For example, Christians place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Meanwhile, Buddhists adhere to the teachings of Buddha.
Spirituality, on the other hand, may differ from person to person. Most people practicing spirituality strive to unfold and explore deep into various life themes, such as love, relationships, values, altruism, compassion, wisdom and truth, life after death, and even the arts. The discovery of these themes throughout one’s life allows one to develop personal growth and manifest higher levels of self-awareness than ordinary individuals. Being spiritual is to form a deeper connection with nature and restore feelings of belonging and gratitude.
What Are the Spiritual Health Benefits for Older Adults?
With strong evidence showing that spiritual practice can benefit several aspects of health and lifestyle, it is believed that working on spirituality and creating a deeper connection with the spiritual side allows older adults to become healthier and achieve a more fulfilling lifestyle.
Improve Physical Health
Multiple studies have found a strong link between physical health and spiritual wellness, suggesting that maintaining a connection to the spiritual side has tremendous health-promoting benefits.
Maintained spiritual practices contribute to lower risks of various age-related conditions, such as hypertension, low blood pressure, and heart disease. Seniors restoring their hope through spirituality are more likely to lead an organized and healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise routines and balanced diets with avoidance of substance abuse help seniors manifest more positive thoughts while experiencing less stress and agitation caused by increasing age.
When your parents participate in spirituality-centric activities, continuous social contacts allow them to connect with like-minded seniors and share opinions and perspectives on various topics regarding wellness enhancement. In a way, such participation helps numerous seniors stay vigilant of their current health status and detect possible health risks, as they get chances to exchange their personal takes on medical care and services.
Enhance Cognitive Health
Besides declining physical health, it is common for your parents to experience deteriorating brain power. The brain controls motor skills and other crucial bodily functions, making it crucial to keep the brain active to enhance every aspect of health.
Cognitive health empowerment is one of the spiritual health benefits that are worth looking into. A three-part study by Cambridge University has indicated that spirituality may play a positive role in increasing the quality of life in people with dementia or some forms of memory loss, quoted “participants used their spirituality or religion more, through their faith, their practices and in maintaining social interactions, their cognitive disorders tend to reduce or stabilize.”
Strengthen a Sense of Community & Socialization
Pursuing spiritual connections and attending spirituality groups give seniors plenty of opportunities to solidify their sense of community and extend their social networks. Through sharing personal experiences and discussing spiritual topics, seniors can break away from their mundane routines and make the most out of their free time while establishing new relationships that help them thrive in all aspects of life, learn more about themselves, increase self-awareness, and accomplish life goals.
Hopelessness is one of the frequent negative emotions in seniors that, unfortunately, is not talked about as much as isolation or loneliness. Why do your parents feel hopeless?
Significant shifts in physical health, losses of loved ones, and lack of meaningful connections are a few reasons that trigger and exacerbate a sense of hopelessness in seniors, making them more sensitive to little conveniences and less attentive to the bigger picture.
Ongoing feelings of hopelessness can cause seniors to struggle with managing their health, leading to more health implications in later years. Finding hope in spirituality offers a solid foundation of support for seniors. It gives them a mental boost when they are at the lowest point of their lives.
Seniors restoring their hope through spirituality are more likely to lead an organized and healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a sense of faith also helps seniors rediscover their purposes and pave the way for new beginnings, much like the famous proverb says, “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.”
Tips to Practice Spirituality and Obtain Spiritual Health Benefits
As mentioned earlier, spirituality is somewhat subjective, and no spiritual wellness is the same for everyone. Whatever practices and methods your parents choose to involve deeper in their spiritual sides, make sure that they must align with their hearts, minds, and personal goals when building their own spiritual journeys.
Here are some common examples of spiritual activities to help your parents tap into their spiritual awakenings and uplift their minds, bodies, and spirits:
- Do meditation for 5 minutes a day
- Try intermittent fasting
- Experiment with Movement therapy
- Join a Yoga, Tai chi, reiki class, or similar activities
- Listen to soul-healing music
- Use essential oils in living settings
- Practice silence retreat
- Travel to connect with new ideas
- Master the act of letting go
- Volunteer and serve the communities
- Go for a walk in the nature
- Grow plants and do gardening
- Take care of sheltered animals
- Partake in spiritual communities or organizations
- Join prayer groups
- Spend more time for self-reflection
- Practice deep breathing and mindfulness
- Read spiritual-inspired, uplifting books and materials
- Spend time alone contemplating the meaning of life
- Journal every day to build self-awareness
- Engage in recreational activities or art therapy
- Take short trips or travel with friends
Spiritual Wellness at 12 Oaks Communities
At 12 Oaks Communities, our residents are encouraged to pick up their paths to spirituality and nurture their spiritual wellness in any way deemed appropriate for their unique circumstances and physical needs. From Yoga and recreational activities classes to on-site prayer or religious groups and other activities focusing on boosting spirituality, supporting spiritual wellness is one of many ways we keep working to motivate our residents to maintain their independence and promote their general health.
If you have questions about spiritual health benefits or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG
Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.