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The objectives of the study were to examine the trajectory of spirituality among older adults, to investigate the roles of gender and religion on the developmental trajectory of spirituality, and to explore whether the linear growth of spirituality accelerated or decelerated at time points at which the participants reported high scores of social support and flexibility.
A five-year longitudinal study.
The research used data from a longitudinal study, which follows a non-institutionalized older adults cohort of residents from France. The data used in this paper were collected at three time points (T1: 2007; T2: 2009; T3: 2012).
A total of 567 participants were included in the analysis (59.44% female; Mage = 75.90, SD = 5.12).
Multilevel growth curve analysis was used measuring spirituality, satisfaction with social support, and flexibility.
The results indicated the following: (1) stability of spirituality over time, (2) older women reported higher levels of spirituality than older men, and those who had a religion reported higher scores of spirituality than their counterparts who had no religion (these effects were strong and clinically meaningful), (3) older adults who reported higher levels of social support and flexibility also reported higher levels of spirituality, and (4) the slope of spirituality seemed to accelerate at time points at which participants also had higher levels of social support and flexibility (these effects were rather small but of theoretical interest).
The results of the present study help to improve the understanding of the potential benefit of encouraging the spiritual aspects of life.
Religious and spiritual issues are clearly important to the older adult population and may play a positive role in maintaining health and recovering from illness. This study systematically reviewed the literature examining the effects of religion and spirituality on health outcomes such as cognitive functioning, coping strategies, and quality of life in people with dementia.
First, 51 articles with defined keywords were collected from online databases. Then, using inclusion and exclusion criteria, 11 articles were selected. These were classified according to methodological quality before being analyzed one by one.
The findings highlight the benefits of spirituality and religion on health outcomes. Three articles showed that in 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. In the other eight articles, use of spirituality or faith in daily life enabled people to develop coping strategies to help accept their disease, maintain their relationships, maintain hope, and find meaning in their lives, thereby improving their quality of life.
Spirituality and religion appear to slow cognitive decline, and help people use coping strategies to deal their disease and have a better quality of life. This literature review allows us to take stock of research over the last decade on spirituality/religion and health outcomes. The benefits observed should be considered with caution and included in rigorous experimental research in the future.
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