4 Tips for Improving Seniors' Physical and Mental Health through Prayer
For years, scientists and researchers have been finding evidence of the power of prayer in terms of improving physical and mental health. Most significantly, the research shows that people who pray have lower levels of stress, experience better pain management, and lead longer, healthier lives. That’s why prayer is a powerful health tool for seniors. If your senior loved one needs to improve her physical or mental health, encourage her to pray. These tips courtesy of Wrecknciled will help you along the way.
1. Pray When Stress Increases
Along with eating well and exercising, one of the best ways to improve physical and mental health is to pray when your stress levels increase. Seniors who pray are less affected by the health consequences they face as a result of stress. In some cases, stress levels decrease in individuals who pray because they shift the focus from their personal challenges to the welfare of others. Overall, prayer relaxes people, which lowers blood pressure and other effects of high levels of stress.
While lowering stress levels via prayer benefits seniors’ mental and physical health, it also helps prevent addiction in seniors. Substance abuse and addiction are becoming serious problems for senior citizens, who often turn to drugs and alcohol when their stress peaks. Similarly, stress has several negative effects on people’s health, and seniors often turn to prescription medication, antidepressants, and alcohol to self-medicate when the symptoms of those stress-related problems persist. Seniors are much safer when they turn to prayer, rather than substances, to deal with their stress and their mental and physical pain.
2. Pray with Your Church Family
Dr. Harold Koenig, director of Duke’s Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, reports that a study published in the Southern Medical Journal shows that prayer has a strong effect on people with hearing and visual deficiencies. These people showed tremendous improvements based on audio and visual testing after prayer sessions. Dr. Koenig also points out that regular church attendees have better coping strategies, have more hope and optimism, and experience less depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Finally, Dr. Koenig says people who pray in church have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and better cardiovascular health.
3. Pray When You Feel Depressed
While depression is not a normal side effect of aging, many seniors do experience depression and visit their doctors to keep it under control. When people who struggle with depression pray, they gain relief and strong emotional health by creating a connection with Jesus, Father God and a church family. Having a purpose and a connection helps seniors stay positive, which keeps their cardiovascular system in check, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. For these reasons, praying when the first symptoms of depression hit is important for seniors.
In 2009, the Journal of Aging and Health published a study examining church attendance and marital status in relation to older adults’ moods. The researchers found that church attendance protects seniors’ health, and the result of having a sense of purpose may be the reason for the beneficial effect.
4. Pray When You Need Hope
For many people who practice prayer, it is a source of hope and optimism. Seniors who canremain positive take much better care of their mental and physical health. Even when they suffer a setback or illness, seniors find that prayer gives them hope for a better tomorrow. Seniors also can stave off depression with the positive outlook on life they gain from praying; the result is they take better care of themselves and more closely follow doctor’s orders to recover and heal more quickly.
It is hard to deny the power of prayer in improving seniors’ physical and mental health. It is important for seniors to pray when their stress levels rise, to pray with their church family, to pray when the symptoms of depression set in, and to pray when they need hope in order to improve their overall health and well-being.