Listening to religious music helps seniors increase their life satisfaction and self-esteem, and decreases anxiety around death, a new analysis shows.

The music also helps with a sense of control, according to researchers at Baylor University, University of Texas-San Antonio, Bowling Green State University and Duke University. This suggests that some long-term care residents may benefit from listening to religious music. 

Responses were collected from more than 1,000 adults, all over age 65, who were either practicing Christians, identified as Christian in the past, or who were unaffiliated with a specific faith.  

“Given that religious music is available to most individuals — even those with health problems or physical limitations that might preclude participation in more formal aspects of religious life — it might be a valuable resource for promoting mental health later in the life course,” the authors concluded. Full findings appear in The Journal of Gerontology

A 2013 study in the same publication looked specifically at the use of religious songs in helping older African-Americans cope with stressful life events.