Death and dying are a constant presence in the life and work of care homes. Residents stay, on average, around 20 months (nursing homes) or 36 months (residential/social care homes/assisted living) and die there. The care home is therefore the setting for the last major event of each resident's life.
Yet these experiences of the very old at the close of their lives have received remarkably little attention either in practice or in research. Nor have churches and theologians given their oldest members anything like the concern for their spiritual wellbeing that they give to the young.
The heart of this book will aim to give voice to something similar from some of the oldest old as they reflect on their pilgrimage of faith from the perspective of extreme old age (over 90). In particular the authors explore what this perspective has to say to the other members of their faith communities, particularly in terms of the things that are seen as being of importance and value.
The particular significance of reflections arising from the experience of approaching death will be explored. This is one area where religious thinking is often out of step with contemporary imagery and language.
'Most books focus on positive ageing, and prefer to ignore the challenges of the fourth age, the age of frailty. This book, which tells the stories of the oldest of people, in care homes, through the lenses of chaplains, will be of immense value to all who work with older people.' -- Elizabeth MacKinlay, Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies School of Theology St Mark's National Theological Centre Charles Sturt University
"A beautiful and instructive book about the oldest old in Britain today that demonstrates the value of listening and attending to them with empathy." -- Peter Coleman, Professor of Psychogerontology, University of Southampton.
"This book will help us all learn how to age as well as we can with or without a faith to guide us. It provides authentic voices from older people, from narrators and interpreters the combination of which make it a rare and important read". -- Harriet Mowat,Director of Mowat Research
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Researching Practice in Mission and Ministry