Health | Ageing

Vintage people – like vintage wines and vintage cheddar

“Re-framing ageing involves people thinking differently about valuing people’s whole lives and not just the years before some arbitrary use-by date”, Council on the Ageing South Australia Chief Executive Jane Mussared said.

“Ageism is anything but benign,” Ms Mussared said at the forum on Positive Ageing.

“Age won’t tell you anything about a person’s value in the workplace. Yet, older people repeatedly report being systematically excluded, marginalised and stereotyped.”

Ms Mussared said there are huge changes ahead.

“The wave of demographic change older people represent will be as disruptive as digital technologies; it will be as ground-breaking as the women’s suffrage movement was in the early 20th century; and it will be as revolutionary as the civil rights movement,” she said.

“It is, in fact, our next big social revolution.”

Deputy Premier and SA Attorney-General, the Hon. John Rau said we needed greater recognition of the value of older workers’ skills and experience in workplaces – their wisdom, calm, perspective and capacity to mentor others.

Former palliative care specialist and 2013 Senior Australian of the Year, Ian Maddocks AM spoke about his ‘building community’ approach to the challenges of ageing.

“As an elderly person in decline, I work hard to stay well and my only medication is a glass of red in the evening,” he said.

“But I have failing hearing and sight – two common dysfunctions of old age.

“Multiple technologies help me cope and stay in touch. But technologies are not enough for the problems of emotional disability, isolation, and loneliness.

“Each residential care facility should include a medical practice with a healthy ageing resource including a gym and pool and library and meeting rooms … offering comprehensive care for both illness and wellness. 

“It would be a community hub – extending the services to the local community and providing outreach for those nearby ageing in their homes.

“Alongside should be a primary school to give children, parents, grandparents, young people and oldies the best chance to know and support each other – building local communities.”

Former SA Supreme Court Judge, Dr Robyn Layton AO QC said her greatest motivations for continuing to take on new challenges are, “Curiosity, interest, passion and the pleasure in taking risks.”

“We need to make a greater effort to stay fit and keep reinventing ourselves to stay involved,” she said.

Cook, author and food producer Maggie Beer AM extolled the virtues of flavour and taste and the pleasure of nourishing meals for maintaining an appetite for life.

“Currently, ageism is the ‘norm’. But I’d like to see vintage people valued the same as we appreciate vintage wines and vintage cheddar,” she said.