Towards the end of life, reflection on the meaning of your life is often important.

Spiritual needs may become more important towards the end of your life. You may find that you wish to finalise things you have set out to do and ‘make peace’ with others. These things can provide spiritual comfort.

Sometimes, you might like a visit from someone who can help with your spiritual needs, for example, a minister from a local church or a friend likely to understand your needs. You can draw comfort from these visits in many ways. You may wish to talk over the things you have done during your life and discuss plans for what else you will do. You might, instead, prefer to spend time in prayer. The care team may include a pastoral care worker who can visit.

You may prefer to spend ‘quiet time’, for example, when listening to music. If you let the care team know, they can try to avoid disturbing you.

Practical tip

Many religious organisations provide home visiting services and can also help people with transport to churches or other religious centres.

Advice for carers

Because you know the older person well, you are likely to be able to discuss spiritual issues with them. Allow them to talk about what is important at this time in their life. Even if you have not discussed spiritual issues before, this opportunity may be welcomed. As a carer, you do not need to share the same beliefs to recognise and support the older person’s spiritual needs.

Advice for carers of older people with dementia

Using music and laughter, rather than words, may be a meaningful way of connecting with the older person who has dementia and can no longer understand words. This provides another way of giving ‘spiritual care’.