Age-related declines in activity level: the relationship between chronic illness and religious activities.
OBJECTIVES: When they are faced with major life transitions such as worsening health, older adults may selectively withdraw from activities. Because of the importance of religion to a large proportion of the elderly population, research is needed to determine whether levels of religious involvement are affected by serious health problems such as the onset of a chronic disease. METHODS: Multiple waves of data from the Duke Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly were used to analyze the effects of five different chronic conditions on two religious activities: service attendance and religious media use. RESULTS: Findings show that broken hip, cancer, and stroke were significantly related to levels of religious attendance. Furthermore, the combined conditions also significantly predicted religious attendance, with more conditions being associated with lower attendance. Neither the individual or summed conditions were significantly related to religious media use. DISCUSSION: The study finds some evidence to support the idea that older adults withdraw from social activities such as religious involvement when faced with declining health. In contrast, levels of religious media use remain stable following the onset of one or more new chronic conditions.
Benjamins, MR; Musick, MA; Gold, DT; George, LK
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