, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 305-312

Relationship Between Private Religious Activity and Physical Functioning in Older Adults

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This study sought to further understand the relationship between physical functioning and use of private religious activity in older adults. Subjects were age 65 or older from urban and rural counties in North Carolina who participated in the Duke University Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (Duke/EPESE). A total of 3,851 subjects responded to a question that inquired about their use of prayer, meditation, or Bible reading in 1986. Their response was correlated to number of impairments in activities of daily living (ADLs) (n = 3,791). Subjects who indicated use of private religious activity either dailyor neverhad the greatest number of impairments. Those who prayed or meditated one time per weekhad the least number of impairments. This cross-sectional finding is explained in terms of both changes in private religious activity in response to increasing physical disability and changes in physical disability in response to private religious activity. Previous research has found that prayer is often used as an effective coping mechanism with various sicknesses and chronic conditions. Further studies are needed to examine older individuals' health over time and evaluate their use of private religious activity to see its impact over time on physical disability.