Spirituality Slows Alzheimer’s Progression

March 12th, 2012 by Dr. Keith Nemec

A growing spiritual life may help slow the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. “The data suggest there may be an association, meaning people with higher levels of spirituality have a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Yakir Kaufman, director of neurology services at Sarah Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem. “This is the first study to actually attempt to look into a relationship between spirituality and religiosity and Alzheimer’s disease,” Kaufman said. Vincent Corso, a former priest who is now manager of spiritual care and bereavement services for Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Care in New York City, said “People who are connected with a spiritual presence in their life, whether it takes the shape of a family member, close friend, support network, meditation or yoga, have a sense of peace and probably, by extrapolation, longevity.”

“What’s important to people is how much they’re able to connect with the people around them. If that creates a feeling of well-being, then that aids in the healing process.” Other research not related to Alzheimer’s disease has started to show a relationship between spirituality and better health outcomes.

“There’s a growing body of data showing the positive effects of higher levels of spirituality/religiosity on health outcomes, especially in other disease states,” Kaufman said. That data includes studies on other neurological conditions. For this study, the researchers assessed 68 people who met the criteria for probable Alzheimer’s disease. Participants were asked to complete a structured questionnaire which included questions such as how spiritual the participant viewed themselves, how often they attended religious services and how often they engaged in private religious activity such as prayer, meditation or Bible study.

There were also several true or false items, such as, “In my life, I experience the presence of the divine” and “My religious beliefs lie behind my whole approach to life.” Participants who had high levels of spirituality or of religiosity seemed to have a slower progression of cognitive decline. Possible explanation for this relationship could be related to level of well-being or could have been related to stress reduction.
-Annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology

Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec comments on “Spirituality Slows Alzheimer’s Progression
There are two important points to make here.

First, people who take active steps to become more spiritual increase their overall health.

Second, there is a big difference between being spiritual and being religious.

This and other studies lump spirituality and religiosity together when they are in actuality not even close to the same.

Religiosity is doing things to feel closer to God. This can be by doing things such as going to church and being involved with church groups. Although this has some positive affects on health, it is not what true health or what total health is about. These have a positive influence on health just like the power of positive thinking would have positive affects on health.

A much higher level of the promotion of total health in body, mind and spirit is true spirituality. This is being one with God and no longer working for Him but being one with Him. To know true spirituality, one must know true covenant. Covenant simplest definition is LOVE. God so loved us He sent His Son to die for us so that we might live, just like you would die for your child. The other half of covenant is our part, our purpose on this planet which is to do what He has put into our hearts (not our minds) no matter what family, friends, people or the world system tell us. We must do it with all that we have, never quitting, stopping or giving up no matter what the cost even to the giving of your life. Covenant means spirituality and to be spiritual means to be in love with God and see Him in everything and everyone. It also means to be loved by God and to know that He loves you and is always leading and directing your footsteps and those whose footsteps cross your path in this journey of life.

When you are becoming spiritual, you are being transformed more and more into His image and likeness.

This comes not by going to church but by living each moment of your life to the full and seeing Him in it all.

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