Religius attitudes to elderly and death

Religious Studies B, Religion and morality, death and elderly

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  • Created by: sana
  • Created on: 20-04-13 11:30

What is Death?

Death = The end of life - brains stops functioning - no sign of breathing - pupils in the eyes are fixed and dilated.

People are remembered = through the person work (legacy) - memories - did great things e.g. ruled a country.

Examples of great people = Micheal Jackson(music) - William Shakespeare(art) - princess Diana(loyalty)

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Life after Death

Islam = Muslims believe that when a person dies, God decides whether they should spend eternity in heaven with Him or h e l l with the devil - there is a state of waiting called 'Barzakh', between the death and the day of judgement - dead will enter heaven if Allah invites them to.

Christianity = Christians have similar ideas - after a person dies God decided whether they should spend eternity in heaven with Him or h e l l with the devil - God decided without purgatory.

Roman Catholics = time of spirtual cleaning and preparation called 'Purgatory' for some before they go heaven.

Heaven = a state of being with God after death

H e l l = a state of being without God/ with the devil after death

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Life after Death 2

Judaism = Jews believe God decides whether they go Heaven or h e l l depending on whether the person is good or bad - sheol = place of the dead, the grave.

Hinduism = Hindus believe in reincarnation - dependent on good deeds(karma) - Hindus describe it as the soul discarding the body at death like a person may take off clothes and put on new ones.

Sikhism = Sikhs believe in reincarnation - similar to hinduism.

Buddhism = believe in rebirth - don't believe in the soul or seperate self - the impermanent life force that is fashioned by karma is reborn at a different level of life.

Rebirth= continuing life in another form.

Reincarnation = being born again in another form.

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Attitudes to the elderly

Advantages                                                            Disadvantages

  • get free transport passes                                ● rely on pensions and state benefits 
  • don't need to work                                           ●more diseases / illnesses (serious)
  • more free time - do what they enjoy                  ●less mobile
  • grandchildren                                                 ● more dependant on others
  • appreciate and value life more ( reflect)             ● feel worthless to society
  • some get respect                                            ●activites of others can make them feel
  • acting l;ike a role model / inspire people            like a burden on their families/society.
  • time to be with family                                      ● lonliness
  • follow dreams                                                 ● fear of death
  • less finicial problems                                       ●hard to have a positive outlook on life.
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Ageism = prejudice and dicrimination againist the elderly

e.g. People expect the elderly to be incapable and can't do much (driving, working)

Not having news readers because their too old people think the elderly can't join in activities /clubs/hobbies.

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Who should care for the elderly?

Living at home

  • strongly independant / privacy / space / moving will mean packing & memories fade / doesn't need to settle in / has friends & community / secure & safe / life their own life / cheaper / won't feel unwanted or a burden.
  • not cared for all the time / loneliness / not social / will hvae to do the house work / may feel unwanted or that there is no one out there that loves / might feel upset living in a house full of memories

Living with family

  • comfort & care / feel appreciated / occupied / remember good times with family / needs help from family / deserve to live with family as they look after their children when they need / won't be a burden because family is family.
  • won't have freedom to do what she wants / burden / unwanted / may feel excluded from the family / lonliness / not own choices / worry about what her family may think of them (HAVE to look after)
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Who should care for the elderly 2

Care home

  • socalise with people their age / new friends / fresh start / no tension between families / care / luxuries / activities / someone to look after & support / doesn't feel like a burden on family / proffesional care / won't feel isolated / can still meet family / won't have to do house work / safety& security
  • might feel alone or unwanted / they deserve love from their families / want to have memories with family / want to sepend time with children and grandchildren / might feel as if they are not loved or will become a burden / useless.

" May his nose be rubbed in dust who found his parents approaching old age and lost his right to enter paradise becuase he did not look after them. " Hadith

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Religious teachings about the elderly


  • different generations of family often live together
  • elderly parents have the right to expect their childrent to care for them (responsibilty) because of their efforts and sacrifices & wisdom
  • looking after the elderly provides spiritual growth
  • sending elderly parents to a care home is seen as unkind and disrespectful

"The Lord hath decreed that ye be kind to parents." Qur'an


  • elderly wisdom is valued
  • told to show respect for the elderly
  • encouraged to look after the elderly
  • provides specialist homes for the elderly and frail
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Religious teachings about the elderly 2


  • should support the elderly because they should be respected.
  • preferred to allow the elderly to keep their independence
  • churches provide facilities for the elderly & pastoral support.

"Love one another as you love yourself."

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Should we take life and euthanasia

  • Only God has the right to take life

Is it ever right to kill another person:

  • self defence / indiviuals choice / greater good for society / no right / God decides


Euthanasia: inducing a painless death by agreement and with compassion to ease suffering.

Voluntary: the person asks a doctor to end their life

Non voluntary: the person is too ill to ask but it is believed to be in their best interests

Passive: this is either where the dose of a pain killing drug is increased in the belief that it will not control pain but will shorten life

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euthanasia 2

Active: with holidng treatment with a delibrate intention of ending life or giving a drug that will end life.

Involuntary: as happended in Nazi Germany , all the disabled and sick people were killed without consultation.

Wrong                                                                                           Right

  • Gods right not ours                                              ● individuals choice
  • illegal in UK                                                         ● freewill -Gods given
  • No certainity to terminal illness                             ●peaceful death

                                                                               ●poor quality of life / pain

                                                                               ●in a mental state

                                                                               ● less traimactic for family

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Religious teachings about euthanasia


  • only Allah can take life / passive euthanaisa may be regarded as compassionate an not true euthanasia because it enables nature to take its cause whilst relieving pain.


  • usually disagree because they belive in sanctity of life, preferring to trust God in his mercy / a loving God would want his people to suffer? / God-given reewill and intelligence gives the right to choose


  • Life is God-given / a blessing / God gives life / God takes life.
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Life should be prolonged regardless of quality?


value of life / sanctity of life / equal rights and fair / if we are able to improve the quality of life using God given talents and skills to save lives we should


God wants people to have a good quality of life / if you don't live happily there is no point of living

Islamic Quote: "Nor take life which Allah has made sacred except for just cause."

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support for the dying and bereaved


  • muslims comfort the people who are dying by saying death is the beginning of a new life / they pray for them to get better or a have a peaceful death at the mosque or together at home / Funeral prayers (Salat-ul-Janazah) is a collective obligation for Muslims, so the community should perform these prayers with the deceased's family / The purpose of these prayers is to request pardons for the deceased and all deceased Muslims.


  • give spirital support and comfort people by saying there is another life that is better / pray
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funeral practises


  • tombstones and decorations by the grave are not encouraged
  • the dead persons body is washed and wrapped in white cloth.
  • on the day of judegement there will be a physical ressurection
  • at the grave the first surah from the Qur'an is read as well as other quranic phrases
  • muslims prefer not to use a coffin
  • graves are always raised above ground level
  • bodies are always buried facing Makkah


  • body is placed in a coffin
  • the coffin is usually taken to the church or chapel there a priest will read from the Bible
  • the preist says a few words about the person which are designed to comfort
  • the coffin is taken from the church, either for burial or cremation.
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