The complex association between religious activities and functional limitations in older adults.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: To examine the longitudinal associations between 3 dimensions of religious involvement-religious attendance, use of religious media, and private religious activities-and 3 domains of functional status-limitations in basic activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), and mobility in older adults. DESIGN AND METHODS: Using the data from a survey of 2,924 adults aged 65+, with self-reported religious involvement and functional status collected at baseline, 3, 6, and 10 years postbaseline, we used repeated measures mixed models to predict functional change by religious status at the prior interview. RESULTS: Increased religious attendance was associated with fewer ADL, IADL, and mobility limitations 3-4 years later, controlling for demographic, health, and social variables as well as prior functional status. Neither use of religious media nor private religious activities was associated with functional change in controlled analyses. Use of religious media, however, was associated with developing more IADL and mobility limitations in uncontrolled analysis, suggesting a potential indirect association. IMPLICATIONS: Religious attendance may protect against decline in functional limitations in older adults. Clinicians may wish to consider the importance of attendance at services in preventing disability for those patients for whom religious involvement is important. Gerontologists may wish to include religious participation in their conceptual framework outlining risk factors for functional decline.
Hybels, CF; Blazer, DG; George, LK; Koenig, HG
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