How will these resources help you? 

In 2023 there are 11 million people aged over 65 in England, and this number is projected to increase by 10% in the next five years. Considerations of how older people are part of and served by religious communities are an important addition to religion and worldviews curricula in study of families and relationships and religion and society. Respect for older people is a key teaching in many of the world’s religions. This list includes resources from various world views and will help KS3 and KS4 students, in particular, unpack what that might mean in today’s world. 

Introduction: a case study of how families care for their ageing relatives

Britain's elderly: The British Family

by The British Family, published by BBC Two, (2010)

This clip looks at the 'pivot generation' of those caring for both their children and their parents as they age. These concepts are illustrated through two case studies: Theresa is in a nuclear family setting and caring for her elderly mother, who has dementia; whereas the Bamrah family live in a multigenerational family. Both case studies illustrate the respect and gratitude that the families have for their older members. Theresa remembers the great sacrifices her mother made for her, and the Bamrah family talk about culture and tradition as important factors in their interdependence as an extended family. 

Using a textual lens for considering Judaism and care of older people

Honouring the Elderly: A Sampling of Texts

by David Schwartz, published by Sefaria

This resource draws on multiple sources of authority within Judaism such as the Torah, Talmud, Midrash and important folk stories to explore what the teachings are within the faith for respect and treatment of older people. Each extract is presented in Hebrew and English, the context explained and the implications examined through thought-provoking questions. Real-life examples are shown, for example, the quotation from the Torah ‘Rise up before the elderly’ (i.e., 'Give up your seat to a senior citizen') being used on bus signs throughout Israel. The site would be a great resource in the religion and worldviews classroom as a case study for what texts are important to Jewish people, and how texts inform their treatment of older people. 

Vatican News: Pope at Audience

Pope at Audience: Elderly must be loved and honoured

by Benedict Mayaki, SJ, published by Vatican News, (2022)

Students of religion and worldviews may already be familiar with the Ten Commandments followed within Abrahamic faiths. In his first General Audience after the Covid-19 pandemic, Pope Francis expands on the fifth commandment to 'Honour thy father and thy mother'. He draws on this commandment and on stories of the treatment of older people in the Bible to show the basis of love towards not just our own mother and father, but towards all older people in society. The speech focuses on what younger generations can do today to care for older people and how this in turn helps them to grow spiritually. This article and video clip will allow students to explore how Catholicism views caring for older people, and also allow for discussions around religious authority within Christianity and the role of the Pope. 

Case study: caring for a parent

When I Married My Mother

by Jo Maeder, published by Vivant Press, (2013), 9780985548216

Jo Maeder was a popular radio DJ in New York, but when her estranged mother was in need of one-to-one care, Jo put aside her frustrations with her and her worries about how different life would be in the southern states and spent what she later calls 'the best years of her life' caring for her. This humorous and insightful memoir shows the challenges and unexpected joys the author found in moving to an area so politically and religiously different to her chosen home, and how the community that she is welcomed into demonstrates how religious worldviews can support older people. 

Further materials

Elderly and End of Life Care for Muslims in the UK, published by Muslim Council of Britain, (2019) Read this article
Faith Communities: How you can get involved, published by MHA, Live later life well, (2024) Visit this website
Loneliness and how churches can help break the cycle, published by Linking Lives UK, (2021) Read this article
Guru Ka Langar: The community meal tradition by Kamran on Bike, published by Medium, (2018) Read this article
Ruth Marx teaches Religion and Worldviews, is a Consultant for Religious Studies and PSHE, a Farmington Fellowship Scholar and a published blogger on Re:Online.

Text © Ruth Marx, 2023.