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Blog Home > 4 Ways Spiritual Care Boosts Good Health
4 Ways Spiritual Care Boosts Good Health

            According to Pew Center Research, 90 percent of adults over age 60 are affiliated with a religion. Whether or not we call ourselves “religious” or belong to a particular church, all humans are spiritual beings who need meaning and purpose in our lives. Research shows that tending to our spirituality can strengthen our mental and physical health.

            This becomes increasingly true as we age and become infirm, chronically ill, or unable to live independently. Many people admitted to nursing homes, for instance, report feeling “useless” or “without dignity” after losing their independence, homes, routines, and communities. Incorporating spirituality into care plans can be effective in helping nursing home residents improve their physical and mental health, bringing greater inner peace and joy to this new phase of life.

            At Maria Regina, our approach to supporting spirituality reflects the values of our founders, the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Ranked among New York’s top quality senior care facilities by both Newsweek Magazine and Medicare, Maria Regina is a premier, 5-star, skilled nursing and rehabilitation center dedicated to offering holistic, loving, resident-centered care. We craft personalized care plans for residents that take into account everything from medications to favorite activities and meals. We also offer a full spectrum of superior rehabilitative services on a short-term basis.

            As part of that dedication to holistic health, our compassionate, skilled pastoral care team meets with each new resident and family to learn how to meet their religious and spiritual needs. While Maria Regina is a Catholic-sponsored care center, offering daily Mass in our beautiful chapel (also streamed to residents’ rooms), prayer services, room blessings and other devotions, we’re also committed to meeting the spiritual needs of residents of all denominations in ways that suit their unique needs.

            “Spiritual care is a key component of our mission of loving, holistic care,” says Michelle Boccia, Director of Pastoral Care. “When a person arrives at Maria Regina, we realize that their life has been greatly disrupted from their daily routine. We are eager to learn about their spiritual lives and how we can support them. Our emphasis on tending to the spirit has always been a defining part of our mission.”

            Many research studies have shown that spiritual care is essential to good health:

1. Supporting Spiritual Health Boosts Physical Health

            Including spirituality in the treatment of aging adults generates positive physical health outcomes. Many aging adults who are actively involved in spiritual communities have lower blood pressure, experience fewer strokes, and live longer than aging adults who don’t participate in spiritual activities.

2. Boosting Spiritual Health Improves Mental Health

            Research studies also indicate that spirituality and mental wellness are linked. For instance, older people who actively belong to a church or religious organization report feeling less isolated, and say that religious rituals provide a sense of comfort. Research also suggests that religious practice is one of the most common ways patients cope with medical illness, and predicts both successful coping and faster remission from depression in medical settings.

3. Spiritual Care Lowers Stress

            Spiritual care can lower stress by creating a more positive and enriching environment. In one study conducted with older adults, for instance, loneliness and depression decreased when spirituality was high. Good spiritual health helps individuals foster better relationships with others, too, enhancing their sense of purpose and meaning in life.

4. Good Spiritual Care Brings Families Together

            “Learning that we offer pastoral care appears to help alleviate the guilt some families feel about placing their loved ones in a nursing home,” says Michelle Boccia. “They know that we see each of our residents as individuals with unique physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. We help families stay connected through spiritual practices that meet their unique needs.”

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