Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Final Project Summary

Sandie Sue -- "How Faith and Religion Affect Longevity"

The topic of my final project is how religious involvement and faith affect longevity. The purpose of this study, to be based on numerous interviews and the collecting of oral "faith" histories, will be to support a relatively new concept which claims longer, happier, healthier lives for senior citizens who are involved with their local church and who rely on their faith daily. Although some biological, psychological and sociological studies and/or information will be presented, the support will rely mainly on personal interviews rather than the research of other scholars and academicians.

Throughout my entire life my faith and the faith of my family has played an important role in our day-to-day existence. From the time I was a young child I remember going to church each week and oftentimes sitting with my grandmother. One of my great-grandmothers lived across the road from us during my childhood and many mornings when we went for a visit she would be sitting and reading her bible. Additionally, over the past ten years I have visited a number of the "grandmothers" in our church and have been touched by their lives and their strong, unwavering faith in God. Therefore, I feel compelled to tell their stories and to investigate and tell the stories of other senior citizens in Wilmington and the surrounding areas who find great comfort and joy in their religious involvement and faith.

Throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers I have pursued a number of classes that should be helpful in this final endeavor. During my undergraduate years I took courses in the Psychology of Aging, Lifespan Human Development (a psychological look at the aging process), Performance of Elder's Stories (a communications class revolving around the aging process and the stories of senior citizens), and Sociology of Marriage and the Family (a sociological look at marriage, the family and the aging process). Then during my graduate studies I completed the initial work on a biographical essay of my husband's ninety-year-old grandfather and another class project that involved interviewing numerous senior citizens who lived through the Great Depression. This final project and interview process I am undertaking should be an excellent cap to my Liberal Studies degree and to my longstanding interest in the aging process.

Last Update: February 11, 2005