What a difference the age makes

Wanted: thoughtful ideas, useful research proposals and practical suggestions about redressing the issue of equal participation for older people in our society. The Australian Association of Gerontology needs you!

Above: Facillitator, Professor Jeni Warburton, John Richards Chair of Rural Aged Care Research, La Trobe University.

By Keryn Curtis

The Hollywood silver screen star, Bette Davis, famously said, “old age ain’t no place for sissies” and it struck a chord. 

The implication is that growing old comes with brutal challenges and you need to be tough and resilient to survive the process.  While some challenges, like certain physical changes, may be largely unavoidable, others that stealthily compromise and disempower people after a certain age are simply breaches of the older person’s human rights; something Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan is actively targeting.

And it’s at the core of a webinar being hosted  at lunchtime this Thursday by the Australian Association of Gerontology on the topic of ‘Older people: Citizenship and participation’.

“Does our society value its older citizens?  Are we letting older people play their full role in society,” asks facilitator, Professor Jeni Warburton.  “No we are not and ageism is part of that.” 

Professor Warburton will be joined by prominent social commentator and activist, Eva Cox and CEO of COTA Australia, Ian Yates, in what she hopes will be a spirited and challenging discussion about the topic, leading to some practical directions and outcomes.  

“Why don’t we have a culture of valuing older people?” she asks.  “I’m Interested in what we are losing out of that.  What do we need to do to respond to that?  How can we do it?”

Warburton says she wants to lead a discussion that addresses the issue at a range of levels. “As researchers, what can we do to make a difference?   Do we need a political campaign?  Social marketing campaigns?  Will baby boomers really be different to previous generations of older Australians?

“Participation of older people is often described as a problem and I think that can get us bogged down a bit.  We know it’s a problem but we don’t want to harp on about it.

“We need good ideas from all kinds of researchers, as well as from marketers and social demographers, urban planners, older people from any backgrounds – anyone who has ideas about redressing this problem are encouraged to join the discussion,” said Professor Warburton.

Get involved:

To register to join the webinar on Thursday 18 April at 1pm AEST; 12.30 ACST and 11am AWST, go to http://www.aag.asn.au/events/event/older-people-citizenship-and-participation  

Free for AAG members; $20 for non–members.

Australian Ageing Agenda is an official member and partner of the Australian Association of Gerontology and proudly supports research and debate about all issues concerning older Australians.

Tags: aag, australian-association-of-gerontology, eva-cox, ian-yates, jeni-warburton, webinar-series,

1 thought on “What a difference the age makes

  1. Longevity awareness is one of the most important factors in helping older people (and the community) engage with their future.
    It’s startling to realise that most people have difficulty in distinguishing between average lifespan at birth, and average remaining lifespan (which is what really matters).
    Worse, we know that at age 65 the Australian Life Tables suggest a shorter remaining lifespan than is likely (on average) by 2-3 years and that most people have no idea of the average lifespan of their own age group.
    Our free and sponsor-free website at http://www.mylongevity.com.au gives people some indication of how long they might live and why. Our aim is to empower people to use this information to better plan and manage their lives. We believe this can be very positively supported by appropriately trained professional advisers, including financial advisers, doctors, dentists and other health professionals. It is clear that few of these professionals are properly longevity aware, so we have also developed a training program for them – initially for financial advisers – at http://www.longevityadviser.com.au .
    As we have seen from the recent debate about changes to superannuation, our politicians and bureaucrats also seem to be lacking in awareness of how steadily increasing longevity will play out in the community. Most decisions are focusing on shorter term issues and not the overall challenge.
    To improve longevity awareness we need much more awareness of the basic numbers. Then we can put the other important issues into proper context as individuals and as a community.
    I will be listening to this important webinar with much interest.
    David Williams

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