Ageing and Spirituality across Faiths and Cultures

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 16 September 2011



Weeks, S. (2011), "Ageing and Spirituality across Faiths and Cultures", Working with Older People, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 135-135.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Given the growing diversity of material now available to those who care for older people, it is important that faith and cultural issues are also given further prominence. Elizabeth MacKinlay achieves that aim by drawing on a number of essays contributed by representatives from different faiths, interlinking and interweaving separate chapters that together form a unified collection. The author's background is that of a registered nurse and an Anglican priest, in Australia, which was the geographic starting point of this project, having been developed from a conference held there in 2008.

It is invariably the case, particularly in longer term care, that health and social care practitioners are increasingly called upon to provide care to elderly people from a number of different faiths and cultures. A consequence of this requirement is that staff need to deliver sensitive and appropriate care to people of all faiths. Here, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist perspectives are covered, and the issues of appropriate care are also addressed, and the book includes recommendations for policy and practice.

In Chapter 13, Harrington addresses the issue of Spiritual Well‐being for Older People and makes an important distinction, between “spirituality” and “religion”, in her introduction: the former is identified as encompassing the search for meaning, which can be balanced by religious practices including an element of spirituality. During the 2011 Census, two talking points were the 57 language versions available, and of the monitoring of identified religions. When available, such data will inevitably be the source of much detailed discussion.

The main achievement of this paperback is the drawing together of such diverse, yet clearly overlapping topics. A number of fascinating groupings are indexed here, including Chinese Australian Judaism: Sharia Law is also analysed at some length. One telling phrase considers whether it can be “argued that a culture of dementia exists within residential aged care?” (p. 15) and it is also noted that “older people are also divided into groups by their disabilities” (pp. 18‐19).

Academically sound, this relatively – given its 272 pages – comprehensive collection may well be a useful resource in a variety of care settings, and as such can be recommended to any number of appropriate readers.

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