The Role of Spirituality in Conceptualizations of Health Maintenance and Healthy Aging Among Latin American Immigrants
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021 Nov;29(11):1079-1088. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2021.04.017. Epub 2021 May 5.
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to investigate ways in which spirituality was conceptualized in relationship to maintaining brain health and healthy aging in a cohort of older adults who immigrated to the United States from diverse regions of Latin America, in order to ultimately develop culturally-tailored brain health promotion approaches.
DESIGN: We conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
SETTING: Participants were recruited from community centers and by a memory care center at a large academic medical center.
PARTICIPANTS: We interviewed 30 Spanish-speaking immigrants over age 60. Questions addressed perspectives about the brain, aging, and dementia. Interviews were coded for themes.
MEASUREMENTS: Thematic analysis was used to analyze participants' responses.
RESULTS: We identified 5 themes: (1) expressing gratitude to God for mental and physical health, (2) putting the onus of life and death in God's hands, (3) using church as a place to socialize and build community as an approach to leading a healthy lifestyle, (4) using prayer as nourishment for the soul and the brain, and (5) gaining inner-peace and calm, and thus maintaining a healthy life, due to a connection with God.
CONCLUSION: The incorporation of customized spiritual interventions may be a mechanism by which to increase the effectiveness of brain health promotion efforts.