Religion and functional health among the elderly: is there a relationship and is it constant?

J Aging Health. 2004 Jun;16(3):355-74. doi: 10.1177/0898264304264204.


Objectives: Religion significantly influences a variety of health outcomes, especially among the elderly. Few studies have examined how the relationship may differ by age within this age group. It is possible that increasing levels of religiosity within the elderly, or other age-related differences, may strengthen the influence of religion on functional limitations.

Method: This study used the Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old Survey, a nationally representative, longitudinal data set, to estimate the effects of religious attendance and salience on functional ability.

Results: More frequent attendance is associated with fewer functional limitations, whereas higher levels of salience are associated with more limitations. No significant age interactions were found.

Discussion: Attendance and salience predict the number of functional limitations in the elderly but in different directions. These effects tend to be stable within the elderly population, indicating that further age divisions may not be necessary when examining this relationship in future studies.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Demography
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States