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Praying For Relief: Religion in Senior Care

There are differences among generations about religion. And when it comes to senior housing, adult children would do well to keep in mind that their parents may have regularly attended services.

Take, for example, the Sisters of Mercy in Evergreen Park, Illinois. They recently got approval from the village board to construct a 110-room facility for those who belonged to religious orders, such as nuns and priests. There had been a fight about the size of the project, but it's now looking like it will be built as a multi-use residence, with assisted living, nursing home rooms and even dementia assistance for some residents.

It's just one example of a growing trend of faith-based options for some seniors, where adherents to various religions have now found that there are options that allow them to celebrate their faith. Considering that just 8 percent of seniors aged 70 or older say they aren't affiliated, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, these appeal to a wide swath of the growing elderly population in the United States.

And it plays into a key component of helping aging loved ones adjust to a new home, or a new lifestyle. Depression and fatigue are common for seniors, and psychologists argue that routines are one way to decrease the risk for conditions like these. Being surrounded by people who have the same belief structure can help with feelings of loneliness, as well as the adjustment period.

But frequent periods of worship also enable seniors in nursing homes or assisted living facilities to have a routine outside of group activities or exercising. This ability to have a schedule that's somewhat external to their own needs can help provide structure, and make things not feel quite so different for loved ones who may not have ever expected that they would have to move out of their own homes.

Moreover, the opportunities extend to just about every faith. There are Catholic options and Protestant options as well as ones for those of the Jewish faith. Even Muslims are starting to realize that in-home care might not be feasible depending on their loved one's condition, according to the New York Times.

So while it may not be as important to younger generations, keep in mind the value of religion and access to it when you're considering senior care options for your loved ones. The benefits can extend beyond just something to do on a Saturday or Sunday.

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