How The Church Helps Fight Depression in the Elderly
One of the best ways seniors can fight off depression is by attending church. Isolation is a problem among the elderly, and church provides a social community full of kind, caring people that are vital in keeping seniors mentally and physically engaged. Those with a strong structure to rely on are less likely to be depressed.
I saw this firsthand with my mother, to whom I am the primary caregiver. We enjoy spending time together, but it is possible to still feel lonely when you spend all your time with the same person and all you have in common is DNA and a love of Family Feud. My mom likes spending time with others too, especially those her own age. Her weekly Bible study is now the highlight of her week, and the monthly church activities such as potlucks, crocheting classes, and volunteer opportunities give her a sense of purpose and something to look forward to. Attending church gets her up and moving too, and as a personal trainer who specializes in senior fitness, this brings me so much joy. It might not be a marathon, but it gets the momentum going for me to convince her to accompany me on a walk or do some gentle stretching.
Of course, seniors are more likely than any other segment of the population to suffer from a physical disability. Decreased mobility, apart from leading directly to isolation, is known to cause depression. The church can be a great reason to get up and confide in friends who share your beliefs.
Regular church attendance can help fight depression and help to mitigate the problems that may cause depression. Seniors who attend church will see health benefits from a combination of community and spirituality. Attending church provides a place to socialize and worship with like-minded individuals. Church, prayer, and religion in general help give purpose and meaning to seniors, who may be struggling with those very concepts.
Church naturally provides a community. It’s impossible to go to church a few times a week and not form deep connections with other churchgoers. The church is a great way for seniors to stay engaged – and that will, in turn, improve their overall health. President Benson illustrated this when he declared:
“Peace and joy and blessings will follow those who render service to others. Yes, we commend Christlike service to all, but it is especially sweet in the lives of the elderly.”
Ezra Taft Benson