Religious Seniors Need Less Care

I've talked to you so often about the link between spirituality and healing, it should be no surprise older adults who are deeply religious or spiritual may be less likely than others their age to enter a nursing home, according to a recent study of more than 800 patients at one hospital.

Researchers found those who reported the most religious activities and spiritual experiences spent less time in a nursing home or rehabilitation center over 15 months. The interesting twist: This benefit was observed only in African Americans and women, not in white men.

Nevertheless, the results are in line with past research tying religious beliefs and spirituality, which may or may not be connected to organized religion, to better physical and mental health and a longer life.

The study included patients age 50 or older, who were hospitalized for conditions such as heart disease and digestive disorders. While hospitalized, patients were surveyed about their religious and spiritual practices and beliefs, as well as any recent stays in a hospital or long-term care facility. Admissions to a hospital, nursing home or rehab center were then tracked over the next year.

On average, the patients who most often engaged in religious activities in their personal lives, such as prayer and Bible reading, spent fewer than 12 days in long-term care. That compares with nearly 27 days among patients who reported the fewest private religious practices.

Yahoo News July 28, 2004

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