By April Irvine
To my excitement, after working on my thesis all year long, our team finally presented it yesterday! With the guidance of my thesis adviser, Dr. Bonnie Beezhold, we presented, “Associations with stress: a cross-sectional comparison of wellness in older adults.” Our group examined the relationships of stress with physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health measures as well as diet and lifestyle factors in older adults living in two different communal sites. The two sites were older adults living in an independent retirement community and vowed religious community (predominately catholic abbots and nuns).
Our group hypothesized that older adults living in a vowed religious community would have lower stress measured by blood pressure and other factors that influenced stress and that lower stress would be associated with healthier lifestyles.
Our group created a wellness survey where we asked about perceived stress, their social support, spirituality and well-being and depression. We also measured their height, blood pressure, weight, lean body mass, and percent body fat. I conducted a 24 hour diet recall, a one-on-one interview process assessing dietary intake.
After we collected the data, our study used statistical analysis to determine significant associations with the variables we collected. We found a significant difference in depression scores between the two groups. The vowed religious community reported significantly higher depression scores than our independent retirement community. Percent body fat was also significantly higher in the vowed religious community. Interestingly, higher spirituality scores were associated with lower scores of perceived stress.
In conclusion, our findings suggested that older adults from the vowed religious community did not experience a higher level of wellness than the independent retirement community.