Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Guest Author



Occasionally I get requests from readers to submit their own articles for publication on our modest website.

The author is a man named Jason Lewis....and this is what Church means to him.


-Ed


This is How Attending Church Can Improve Seniors' Health
By Jason Lewis

As seniors look to improve their mental and physical health, they often consider exercising,

eating healthy, and meditating. One way you can improve your health that you may overlook is
attending church services. In fact, attending worship services boost seniors’ health in several
ways.

1. Church Services Relieve Stress

A study done by the Center for Research on Men’s Health at Vanderbilt University found that
people who attend church, synagogue, or mosque services have less stress and live longer. In
fact, the study found that middle-aged men and women reduce their risk of mortality by 55%
percent. Additionally, the study found that “non-worshipers had significantly higher overall
allostatic load scores and higher prevalence of high-risk values for three of the 10 markers of
allostatic load than did church-goers and other worshipers.” Allostatic load includes
physiological measurements of cardiovascular, nutritional/inflammatory, and metabolic
measures; the higher the load, the more stressed the individual is.

Church services also give seniors a quiet place
to pray, meditate, and reflect. Attending church
gives people the opportunity to be mindful and
put their worries to the side or lift them up in
prayer: “It can be difficult to make ourselves focus on the here and now, especially if we’re going
through a transition as life-changing as addiction recovery. But taking even a few minutes a day
to be mindful of all we have in the present moment – and especially all we have to be grateful
for – can help us feel more at peace with ourselves, our surroundings, and our circumstances.”
Being present in the moment during a church service does wonders for a senior’s mental health.
2. Socialization through Church Activities Boosts Physical and Mental Health

Seniors who attend church services find socialization opportunities and a community that
welcomes them with open arms. Church members visit one another, provide meals for one
another, run errands for each other, send cards and notes of encouragement, and a variety of
other kind things throughout the year for fellow congregation members. Seniors who feel
isolated or who struggle with depression benefit from knowing that others care.
They also benefit from socializing in general because they establish relationships with others
and feel less lonely. In fact, loneliness is a significant cause of concern when it comes to
seniors. According to Seniorly, individuals who are lonely are twice as likely to develop the form
of dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease than those who are not lonely. Other studies show
that socializing helps seniors fight illnesses and boost their immune systems.

Church activities also boost physical health in seniors. For example, many churches host
luncheons for seniors during the week or after the worship service. Seniors have the chance to
eat a free, healthy home-cooked meal, which provides the nutrients a senior needs to stay
healthy.

Churches also commonly host exercise classes and hobby times for seniors. Many of these
activities are led by community resource centers and are designed specifically for retirees. By
attending these activities in their churches, seniors benefit from socializing in addition to being
physically and cognitively active.

3. Attending Church Services Decreases Risk of Certain Diseases
Fitness magazine points to a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan
School of Public Health to demonstrate how attending church benefits people’s health and
decreases their risk of certain diseases. Specifically, the study found that regular church
attendance results in a lower risk of mortality and a greater longevity. For example, women who
regularly attend church have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and a lower risk
of dying from cancer.
The lead author of the study contends that “groups that not only have social gatherings but also
have a shared sense of meaning, healthy behavioral norms, and a common vision for life would
have a larger effect on mortality than, say, would merely showing up at a bingo game.” That’s
why the church seems to figure so prominently in improving health for seniors.

Seniors benefit mentally and physically from attending church. Worship services relieve stress
and promote mindfulness. They also provide socialization opportunities for seniors to combat
loneliness and certain diseases.


-JL