Is it possible to put on a community engagement conference, provided free of charge to the public, involving major speakers from leading stakeholders in the ageing industry, in less than a month?
That was the question put to the Faculty of Old Age and the Psychogeriatric Nurses Association earlier this year, culminating in the first joint venture of its kind. Held on February the 14th as part of Seniors Festival and appropriately titled, “Loving Life in Late Life”, the event welcomed 150 registrants from all backgrounds – seniors, carers, and health professionals. Following a Welcome to Country by Mr Michael West and opened by the Honorable Scott Farlow (representing the Minister for Ageing) as well as Dr Sue Packer (Senior Australian of the Year, 2019), people heard from Professor Bruce Stevens (Charles Sturt University), Ms Ainslie Lamb (University of the 3rd Age), Mary Magias (of Carers NSW) and Mr Rod Pirotta (PGNA). Capacity Australia maintained the need for self-empowerment, Dr Sid Williams reflected on how old age was neither wholly bad nor good, and Dr Jeyasingam from the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research closed with an interdisciplinary forum.
A highlight of the event was when an 87 year old member of the forum stood up, to bemoan how she was finding it difficult to gain guidance in late life, noting that recommended exercise regimes all seem to cut out at 75. She spoke about her friends, beset with media portrayals of healthy ageing, found such issues confronting and demeaning, preferring to be left alone. The interesting response from Professor Stevens was whether disengagement was truly a choice – a fundamental question for the ageing individual.
There was much discussion about MyAgedCare, models of ageing, and a positive celebration of the amazing activities of the U3A. Visitors also were able to access free materials from LegalAid and Carers NSW. This did not however include Dr Williams’ book, which one attendee mistook as being a free sample and went missing for several hours.
My sincerest thanks to Drs Millie Ho and Daryl McMahon of the FPOA for their assistance with this event, and the indomitable will of the rest of the PGNA Committee – Regina McDonald, Anne Hoolahan, and Marianne Cummins.
Many thanks to the Faculty of Old Age for supporting this important event.