The Benefits of Spiritual Wellness As We Age
The many changes we experience as we age can sometimes feel overwhelming. Retirement brings unique challenges many people haven’t faced before in life – which is why spiritual wellness is so beneficial later in life. As a core dimension of total wellness, spirituality can be a key contributor to how well we age, and the fulfillment we find as we get older. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to practice and grow your spirituality at senior living communities like those at The Ridge.
Spirituality and Religion
While the two ideas share many similarities, religion and spirituality are distinctly different. Religion is founded on a set of beliefs, practices and rules, such as attending a church, participating in specific rituals, and abstaining from certain behaviors. Spirituality is broader. Someone who is spiritual but not necessarily religious usually believes in a higher power; however, they don’t necessarily participate in rituals but works to improve upon their understanding of themselves and the world around them. Spirituality and religion are closely connected, and both are generally practiced with the same goals in mind — compassion, self-awareness and purpose.
The Many Benefits of Spirituality
As we age, our daily routines and activities, the roles we play in our family’s and loved ones’ lives, and even the way we see ourselves can all drastically change. The older we become, the higher the possibility becomes of losing independence and having to rely on others for assistance in our daily lives. For all these reasons, and many more, spirituality is important later in life to many people. Just a few of the benefits of spiritual wellness include:
Better cognitive health
In a study conducted by Cambridge University, spirituality contributes to slowing cognitive decline. The study, which included three independent articles, concluded: “Participants who used their spirituality or religion more, through their faith, their practices and in maintaining social interactions, their cognitive disorders tended to reduce or stabilize.”
Improve social connections
Spiritual practices, particularly group practices like being part of a church congregation, tend to improve already established relationships and even make it easier to develop new relationships. In addition to reducing the negative impact of isolation and depression, a strong sense of community can improve mental, emotional and physical health in senior years.
Friends and family members are more likely to pass away as we age, making grief and our own mortality a more prominent part of our lives. The social connections created by spirituality can be a source of comfort and support during these times. Spiritual wellness can also have profound benefits in helping people grappling with their own mortality.
Sense of purpose
Spirituality can help provide a sense of purpose for older adults in retirement. Seniors often struggle with their identity because of retirement, a loss of independence, or a change in lifestyle. The community and peace that come from spirituality can help seniors find a new purpose in life and provide the fulfillment they once had.
Physical health benefits
According to the Mayo Clinic, those who practice spirituality tend to live longer. In 18 studies, the report found that spiritual wellness contributes to less cardiovascular disease, hypertension and lower blood pressure. People who are spiritual also more likely to exercise more, eat better, smoke less, use their seat belts, and attend preventive screenings.
Every person’s spiritual journey is deeply personal and unique. There’s no unilateral standard for spiritual practices, nor should there be. It really comes down to whatever works best for you. These examples of spiritual activities for seniors can serve as a foundation from which to build your own spirituality.
- Spending time outdoors
- Prayer groups
- Taking time for self-reflection
- Thinking positively
- Reading spiritual and religious literature
Spiritual Wellness at The Ridge
At The Ridge family of senior living communities, residents are encouraged to find spiritual wellness by any method they choose. In our Pinehurst, Cottonwood, and Foothill communities in Colorado and Utah, there are abundant ways to practice spirituality. We regularly offer yoga and meditation, including Meditative Music Listening, a program that uses music to help tell a story or paint a picture, along with a variety of activities focused on mindfulness. We also provide on-site religious services, such as Church of the Latter Day Saints sacrament on Sundays at our Utah communities and transportation to off-site religious services.
Supporting residents’ spiritual wellness is just one of many ways retirement keeps getting better at The Ridge. If you’d like to learn more about The Ridge communities, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website or call us any time at 1-877-894-9008.