Faith in Older People – what for?
Our job is to support the spiritual lives of older people, wherever they may be. The concept of spiritual need is well established – it even appears in the National Care Standards for residential care of older people – and is well understood to embrace people of all faiths and none. So we work with people within and outwith faith communities to explore ways of helping older people connect with what matters to them – that which gives meaning to their lives. That could indeed be attachment to religious and cultural traditions; but it could equally be a love of the great outdoors, or the way music or art speak to you, or the sense of transcendence that accompanies meditation.
All this is especially important as we age. For one thing, many of us become more interested in the inner life, and less concerned with the trappings of materialism. Indeed Hinduism sees contemplation as the chief duty of the older person. However, older people are at greater risk of isolation and a kind of spiritual impoverishment, in which their perceived needs are reduced to food, clothing and shelter. We all know about the 15 minute (if you’re lucky) Home Carer visit, for example.
We all hope this won’t happen to us: that we’ll be hale and hearty till the end. But inevitably, for some people, the challenges of physical and mental health, degeneration of the brain, or social isolation will be a reality. Here in Faith in Older People, we’d like to contribute to the ongoing meaningfulness of the lives of older people, and if you browse around our website you’ll see the sort of things we do to this end.
But the idea of spiritual need is not without its critics! ‘Claptrap and nonsense!’ was how one gentleman recently expressed his views to us. So we feel our way forward, hoping that what we can offer is authentically and practically useful. Please follow our blog, respond to our questions, and help us figure out how.