Aging Agenda for
Houston-Harris County
"Moving Toward an Elder Friendly Future"

Spirituality, Culture, Recreation and Lifelong Learning


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For more information contact:

Janice Paul, PhD
Houston Department of Health and Human Services
713-794-2965 (phone)




© 2009 HCAAA


Promote and provide culturally appropriate neighborhood oriented social, recreational, education and religious opportunities to enhance the quality of life for seniors.

Spirituality, culture, recreation, and lifelong learning all contribute to a meaningful life for seniors—or at any stage of life—and they are intertwined in many ways. Spirituality and culture may influence the involvement seniors have in other activities. Specifically, spirituality can frame the way seniors view lifelong learning and recreation. Unlike such formalized religious activities as attending a house of worship, spirituality can describe activities that contribute to being spiritual (concentrating on things sacred or those unrelated to the material world)— reading, studying, singing, exchanging ideas with others of varied faiths, or simply communing with nature. Some places of faith rely on seniors for wisdom and guidance.

Some religious organizations have a “do for” concept of seniors, meaning they ensure that seniors’ basic needs are met but may not encourage seniors to continue in leadership roles. On the other hand, some faiths support “do with” activities, meaning they have groups and activities that support seniors’ mental, social, and emotional physical growth. Even within religious/spiritual groups, culture may further affect involvement. As nonreligious entities and faith-based and religious organizations plan for the needs of seniors, understanding these cultural influences can increase potential success.

Recreational activities benefit the emotional and physical well-being of people of all ages.

In older adults, recreational engagement also helps maintain vibrancy and mental acuity, even when physical abilities change. In Houston–Harris County, recreational activities geared toward seniors typically include health and wellness training and exercise programs. Most are held at neighborhood and multi-service centers, but as the Baby Boom generation ages, varying the types of activities and places they’re offered will become increasingly important.

Lifelong learning ensures that seniors have the opportunity to be engaged in learning regardless of age. Lifelong learning includes everything from art and music classes to college courses and opportunities to get acquainted or stay current with technological trends. Harris County’s Senior Education Center reports on its Web site that more than 4,000 adults 55 years of age or older have taken courses at the center since 2000, and the oldest graduate was 92 years old.