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VOLUME 6, NUMBER 3, 2003

Patterns of Religious Practice and Belief in the Last Year of Life
Ellen L. Idler, Stanislav V. Kasl, Judith C.Hays

Objectives. Although it is frequently assumed that issues of religious faith become more salient at the end of life, there is little or no population-based empirical evidence testing this assumption.
Methods. Using data from the New Haven site of the NIA EPESE project (N=2812), we examined self-reports of attendance at services, self-ratings of religiousness, and strength and comfort felt from religion for respondents who did and did not die within 12 months following an interview. Religiousness was assessed at baseline (1982) and in follow-up interviews in 1985, 1988, and 1994. Cross-sectional comparisons of levels of religiousness were made among 0-6-month deceased, 6-12-month deceased, and 12-month survivors, and longitudinal comparisons were made with religiousness at the previous wave.
Results. After adjusting for age, sex, education, marital status, religious affiliation, and a set of health status measures, we found that while attendance at religious services declined among the near-deceased, this group showed either stability or a small increase in feelings of religiousness and strength/comfort received from religion. Overall levels of attendance and religious feelings were high for this religiously diverse sample.
Discussion. Community studies of respondents in their last year of life are rare. In this sample, religious involvement appears to continue throughout the last months of life.

Keywords: old people, religious practices, belief

Giving life to the years - religiousness in old age. An example from Swiss Confederation.
Ljudmila Šemerl-Schmid

The authoress, a Slovene expatriate from the European ecumenically conscientious Basel in Switzerland reports about Swiss national joint project (NFP 32 - Höpflinger et al, 1999) on old age (28 projects) in 1999. Furthermore she discusses the recent Swiss "culture of health-care, old age and dying" and general awareness for religious questions (also thematic exhibitions) even in Swiss multicultural respect. Swiss contribution on longevity to World Summit on Old Age (Madrid, 2002) introduced the notion of "society of long life" and SWILSO-O study in Geneva (CIG, 2001) proved how religiousness influenced the survival of the oldest old. According to feminisation of old age the authoress from her personal experience describes two projects of spirituality; maximum quality of life in old age in Swiss religious order of Charitable sisters of the Holly Cross from Ingebohl/Schwyz and the minimal ecumenical intergenerational project of WDP (World Day of Prayer since 1887) also known in Slovenia since 2000.

Keywords: Switzerland, old people, religiousness, Cheritable sisters of the Holy Cross, NFP 32 longevity, quality of life, World Day of Prayer

Stereotypes and facts on ageing and elderly people
Simona Hvalič Touzery

The process of ageing is associated to stereotypes on ageing that are mostly negative. Elderly people are understood as a group of people that cannot give much more to the world around them. Old age is also seen as a period of life that is inevitably facing serious psychological and physical changes that cause decrease in creativity of elderly people. A frequent stereotype is that eldery people are the burden for the society. Another one, that they live isolated and nonsexual life. Elderly people are supposed to be homogeneous group that is different from others. The reality is different. The author will take you through the most common stereotypes on elderly people and some facts that that prove them wrong.

Keywords: elderly, stereotypes, tabuisation

Programmes for quality ageing and good intergenerational relations in the parish and other religious communities
Dr. Jože Ramovš

In Slovenia and all over the Europe, the parish as a main religious community is an important factor of social networks for good relations among young, middle aged and older generations and of help to frail elderly people. In the following article the biblical Christian doctrine on good intergenerational relations and old age is described. It also presents the actual, widespread ways of elder care and connecting among different generations in a parish. The analysis of the current situation shows that, under current circumstances, family and neighbours cannot perform their traditional roles; transferring personal experiences between generations, assuring sufficient connection among them in everyday life and caring for elderly people. These assignments are performed by different groups and organizations on the principle of personal decision of every individual to involve in, and for lifelong learning. These days we have to learn how to communicate and cooperate better in order to reach better relations among generations and quality ageing. The article describes several modern programmes of this kind in the parishes. In addition to that, it focuses on the possibilities to introduce eight programmes also in parishes. These programmes are developed and implemented by the Anton Trstenjak Institute in many Slovenian municipalities: programme for rising of awareness within the parish about quality of old age and the necessity of preparing on old age, short courses for better relations with family members and even more with an elder family members, a course for preparing on quality ageing after the retirement, a course for better understanding of the younger two generations, personal companionship with a lonely old person, small intergenerational groups for quality ageing. The last two programmes function on the basis of well trained volunteers. The founding of the parochial intergenerational centre is a great modern possibility for all these programmes and many other programmes for elderly to be performed there in a close relation with young and middle age generations. In the last part of the article, special methodology for activity of parochial intergenerational group for quality ageing is introduced.

Keywords: old age, parish, good intergenerational relations, elderly care, pastoral intergenerational centre, intergenerational pastoral programmes

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