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The role of religious beliefs and practice in the lives of older men in residential nursing homes: a case study of the role of Islam in nursing homes in Saudi Arabia and the implications for policy and practice

By Khalid Saud Alshareef


Increasing attention in the social science literature, particularly within the sociology of religion, psychology and gerontology is being given to the role of religion in the lives of older people. Moreover, research has repeatedly identified religion as a significant coping resource throughout human life. Through the use of the biographical narrative method of interviewing, and the subsequent thematic analysis of the data, this study focuses on the role of religious beliefs and practices in the life experiences of older men in two selected Saudi nursing homes. The research demonstrates the positive influence of religion on adjustment processes in later life in general and specifically on adjusting to life in a nursing home. The study shows that religion serves as an important thread of integration in older men's lives. As they grew older, the respondents in this research had become more religious and more involved in religious practices. The study found that religion was an important dimension in their everyday life. All of them had integrated religious beliefs and practices into their lives to help them respond positively to the difficulties which they experienced. Above all, they strongly believed that leading a religious (Islamic) life was their duty as Muslims and this would also lead to their being rewarded by God in the Hereafter, as they believed that a truly happy life would come after death. Based upon its findings, the study highlights the need to acknowledge the importance of religion in the social care provision for older people in Saudi Arabia, for example, in counselling, in social work provision in general and within residential homes for older men in particular

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