Regular Religious Attendance Provides Social Outlet, Improves Outlook in Older Women

Posted by Lindsay Starke on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:40AM

Does your grandmother go to church, synagogue, mosque, or attend other religious services? If she does, she's likely happier than her peers that don't. A new study shows that women over 50 who attend religious services regularly are more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical than those who don't.

According to the new study, those who attend services frequently were 56 percent more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don’t and were 27 percent less likely to be depressed.

The researchers noted in particular that the women who attended services had more social support and enhanced social interaction than those who did not, which provides a strong hint at the benefit of religious attendance, especially among the elderly. As many people age, they can become socially isolated, which has been shown to increase depression. Perhaps it is not so much the religious attendance itself, but the cohesive social network that it provides, that is the real advantage.

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