The Continuing Education of Senior Adults: An Examination and Analysis of Programming for the Successful Aging of Senior Adults in Baptist Church Recreation Ministries
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One of the more intriguing phenomena of this young 21st Century is the Baby Boomer generation. Members of this group entail the post-World War II babies born between the years of 1946 and 1964. Often referred to as “Boomers,” this generation is now entering their retirement years. As they encroach on senior adulthood in increasing numbers, an interesting dilemma is developing, as gerontologists, sociologists, physicians, theologians, and psychologists come to the realization that this generation is different, and must be treated differently than previous senior adult generations. The development of this conundrum has found no bigger stage than the church. In an effort to develop a better understanding of the enormity of this phenomenon, the MacArthur Foundation funded a multidisciplinary study which served as the foundation for John Rowe, M. D., and Robert Kahn’s landmark book entitled Successful Aging. The thesis of this work was that to age successfully, people must maintain (a) low probability of disease and disease-related disability; (b) high cognitive and physical functional capacity; (c) active engagement with life. The main purpose of this qualitative research study was to discover how the successful aging of senior adults is being encouraged and aided by the recreation ministries of Southern Baptist churches. Therefore, the main research question of this study is: Based on the knowledge of the benefits of regular physical activity and proper nutrition for senior adults, what is the educational and activity programming response of church recreation ministries for senior adults? In other words, what are the churches doing to help their ever-growing numbers of senior adults live longer, healthier, and happier lives? This study influences the field of Adult Education, of which Religious Education is a component, by shedding light on what churches seem to be doing right in this area, and where the churches could be doing so much more.