Lifestyle Choices - Spirituality

obesity and alzheimer's prevention

Nourish Your Soul!

Spirituality and religious involvement appear connected to better health outcomes and quality of life, especially in older individuals.

Researchers continue to explore the ways in which spirituality and religion positively influence someone’s health.

This vitality seems to put several risk factors for dementia
at bay, resulting in:

Research Review

Recent research suggests that religious activities may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, although this effect is probably not nearly as important as the emotional resilience that religious involvement conveys.  

In at least three studies in peer-reviewed journals, researchers have found that religious activity is associated with either a slowing of cognitive decline in persons with Alzheimer’s disease or a slowing in memory loss associated with normal aging:

Here is how religious involvement might slow memory loss: 

Likewise, numerous studies of caregivers of people with dementia have found that religious involvement is associated with better coping and quicker adaptation to the caregiving role.

While a growing body of research suggests that religious involvement is associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease and the cognitive decline that occurs with aging, much further research is needed to understand what these studies mean.

Click here to read a more extensive version of this review of the research.

Contributed by Harold G. Koenig, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, an associate professor of medicine, and co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.  

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Spirituality Surveys

Caregivers' Viewpoint:

ICAN 2: Investigating Caregivers' Attitudes and Needs asked caregivers how religion and spirituality has impacted their experience in caring for a loved with Alzheimer’s disease. Released in February 2007, the survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of AFA and sponsored by Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Among its findings: 

Physicians’ Viewpoint:

Physicians were questioned whether religion and spirituality negatively or positively impacts health, in a survey sent to a random sample of 2,000 practicing physicians aged 65 or younger in the United States.

The survey results, reported in the April 9, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found:

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