Spirituality and the Successful Aging of Older Latinos
AuthorChild, Stephen Leigh
AdvisorHilton, Jeanne M.
Human Development and Family Studies
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This study investigated hypothesized relationships between older Latino's level of spirituality or religiosity and their experiences of well-being and lack of depression, after controlling for their age, health, economic strain, and level of education. Sixty Latinos between the ages of 50 and 84 participated in the study. The data were collected in the preferred language of the participant (English or Spanish), using a face-to-face interview and a self-report questionnaire. Four research questions were evaluated using hierarchical multiple regression (HMR). Both religiosity and spirituality predicted well-being; however, increases in well-being were associated with lower levels of religiosity and higher levels of spirituality. The other major finding of this study was that economic strain overshadowed all other variables in predicting depression. Thus, two factors predicted the psychological health of Latino elders: economic strain predicted depression, and spiritual health (religion and spirituality) predicted well-being. Neither of these factors (financial health; spiritual health) has been included as dimensions of health in traditional models of successful aging. The findings of this study provide initial insights that can help professionals and community leaders meet the needs of the growing numbers of older Latinos. Several ideas for implementing the findings are presented, including institutional collaboration among medical, academic and faith-based communities for the most effective and efficient delivery of successful aging interventions and programming.