Religion, Meaning in Life, and Change in Physical Functioning During Late Adulthood

Journal of Adult Development (Impact Factor: 0.69). 09/2012; 19(3):158-169. DOI: 10.1007/s10804-012-9143-5


This study has two primary goals. The first is to see whether select aspects of religion are associated with meaning in life. The second goal is to see whether change in meaning in life is associated with change in physical functioning. Data from a nationwide longitudinal survey of older people provide support for the following relationships: (1) older adults who attend church services more often tend to develop a closer relationship with God; (2) older people who have a closer relationship with God are more likely to provide emotional support to others; (3) elders who give emotional support to their social network members are more likely to have a stronger sense of meaning in life; and (4) older individuals who have a deeper sense of meaning in life are less likely to experience a decline in their physical functioning over time.

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    • "There is a positive relation between meaning and subjective ratings of health in a range of populations, from cancer survivors (Jim & Anderson, 2007) and Alzheimer Disease patients (Boyle, Buchman, Wilson, Yu, Schneider, & Bennett, 2012) to adolescents and smoking cessation patients (Steger, Mann, Michels, & Cooper, 2009). Those high in meaning in life show better physiological indicators of immune (Krause & Hayward, 2012) and stress response (Ishida & Okada, 2006). Meaning also is beneficially related to the health behaviors thought to be important for overall health, such as dietary control (Piko & Brassai, 2009), substance use (Brassai, Piko, & Steger, 2012; Martin, MacKinnon, Johnson, & Rohsenow, 2011), physical activity (Brassai, Piko, & Steger, in press; Holahan, Holahan, Velasquez, Jung, North, & Pahl, 2011), and healthy attitudes toward sexual prophylactics (Steger, Fitch-Martin, "

    12/2014; 30(2):53-78. DOI:10.16935/ejss.2014.30.2.003
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    • "Further, high levels of satisfaction with social resources correlate negatively with depressive symptoms among older adults (George, Blazer, Hughes, & Fowler, 1989). Krause (2012a) found that older adults who feel more closely connected to others are more forgiving, leading to lower levels of depression over time. It also has been suggested that one reason for the association between religious participation and well-being is the enhancement of social networks through activities traditionally associated with religious participation (Lim & Putnam, 2010) or the social capital gained through giving and volunteering (Yeary, Ounpraseuth, Moore, Bursac, & Greene, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Social connections provided through religious participation are associated with subjective well-being in older populations. This study investigated how much of this association can be explained by other social connections, and whether these associations vary by age. A cross-sectional random-sample telephone survey was completed by 1,025 individuals over 55 years of age. The contribution of religious participation was examined using hierarchical multiple regression and ANCOVA analyses for the entire sample and for four age-specific groups: (1) 55–64, (2) 65–74, (3) 75–84, and (4) 85+. Religious participation was found to be a significant predictor of subjective well-being for the oldest and youngest groups.
    Journal of Religion Spirituality & Aging 04/2014; 26(2-3):259-278. DOI:10.1080/15528030.2013.867423
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between religion and gratitude to God. A special emphasis is placed on key virtues that are promoted in the church. A conceptual model is developed that contains the following core hypotheses: (a) more frequent attendance at religious services will bolster feelings of religious commitment, (b) people who are more committed to their faith will be more likely to adopt religious teachings that extol the virtue of humility, (c) people who are more humble will be more compassionate, (d) individuals who are more compassionate are more likely to provide support to others, (e) providing support to others helps people derive a deeper sense of religious meaning in life, and (f) individuals who have found a deeper sense of meaning through their faith will feel more grateful to God. Data from a recent nationwide survey provide support for each of these relationships.
    Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 08/2013; DOI:10.1037/rel0000028 · 1.76 Impact Factor
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