MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (ABP) — A rewarding spiritual life may help slow the devastation of Alzheimer's disease, according to a preliminary study.
“The data suggest there may be an association, meaning people with higher levels of spirituality and religiosity have a slower progression of Alzheimer's disease,” Yakir Kaufman, director of neurology services at Sarah Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem, told the HealthDay medical-news agency.
Other research in recent years has shown a relationship between spirituality and better health.
Kaufman, who conducted the recent study while working at a geriatric center in Toronto, presented the findings to the April meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Miami Beach, Fla.
Kaufman and his co-authors, however, stressed caution when interpreting the results. “This is the first study to actually attempt to look into a relationship between spirituality and religiosity and Alzheimer's disease,” Kaufman told HealthDay. “We did not specifically look into the mechanisms, and we certainly need to replicate these results and do a larger study.”
For this study, researchers assessed 68 people with probable Alzheimer's, assessing their spiritual activities. Participants who had high levels of spirituality or religiosity seemed to have a slower progression of cognitive decline. The authors said the results could be related to a number of factors, including religiosity, feelings of well-being and stress.
Vincent Corso, a former priest who is now a hospice worker in New York City, said he was not surprised by the findings, however preliminary. “What's important to people is how much they're able to connect with the people around them,” he said. “If that creates a feeling of well-being, then that aids in the healing process.”