Staying Sharp For Dummies
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Some type of spiritual belief system is found in virtually every society on earth. People want and need to believe in something greater than themselves. Some studies have shown that spiritual beliefs and religiosity (participation in an organized religion) increase with age, leading to considerable research into the effects of religion and spirituality on health issues and aging since the 1990s.

You may concede that being spiritual or religious makes people feel healthier, but there are also measurable results to support their belief. Here are just a few:

  • A 1992 study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry stated that religious faith increased the ability of older adults to cope with illness, loss, disability, and mortality issues.
  • A study reported in the Southern Medical Journal in 1998 reported that subjects who attended church once a week were 43 percent less likely to have been admitted to the hospital for any reason, and those who were hospitalized had markedly shorter stays.
  • An article in The Journal of Pain reported that daily spiritual experiences were associated with more positive attitudes and resulted in a decrease in reported pain.
  • A Duke University Medical Center in Durham study of over 4,000 participants over the age of 65 found that those who pray and attend religious services on a weekly basis, especially those between the ages of 65 and 74, had lower blood pressure than their counterparts.

The commonality in these studies is the presence of spirituality and faith in people's lives on a regular basis. Whether it takes the form of a formal religion or a more personal spiritual discipline doesn't matter. The point is that being connected to a power greater than yourself provides you with meaning, hope, and peace and lessens stress. So what is there to lose? Find what works for you and make it part of your daily life.

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The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people.

The Health in Aging Foundation is a national non-profit organization established in 1999 by AGS to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public.

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