The event, hosted by La Trobe University in Albury-Wodonga, was part of their ‘Bold Thinking’ series introduced to challenge minds, with the session focusing this time on the concept of ageing.
Among the panelists for the event were Renata Singer - writer, educator and community activist; Professor Irene Blackberry - Director of John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research at La Trobe University; and Dr Rachel Winterton - research fellow at the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research at La Trobe University.
“We live in an ageing society yet we are reluctant to discuss ageing or growing old...in fact we become obsessed with staying young forever,” Professor Blackberry says.
“In this event we wanted to challenge our thinking and the audience about the concept of ageing through our three panel speakers who shared their life experience, research and work to show that there is life beyond 60 years old or retirement proving that we should in fact embrace ageing as part of the living journey.”
Professor Blackberry goes on to mention that there are a lot of stereotypes and negatives around ageing, something she says the panel discussion aimed to break through.
“Our experience shows that there is a lot that older people can offer to society and the whole community should engage and support older people to age in place,” she explains.
“We aim to raise awareness of the potentials that older people can bring to society.
“For older people it is important to have a purpose in life as the expansion of life expectancy occurs beyond 60 years and we now live 30 or more years post retirement.”
Professor Blackberry says the panel discussion also touched on the topic of changing roles of older people in our society.
“In the past it was assumed that they will care for grandchildren but with the longer life expectancy, older people have other interests like travelling, volunteering and continuing on paid employment,” she explains.
“There was also some discussion that the older workforce included people aged 50 plus and that this group of people found it challenging to get a job.
“So on one hand, the discussion panel suggested we need to give space for young people in the workforce, but highlighted that we also don’t have the support system to engage the older workforce who need paid employment.”
The panel discussion also highlighted the implementation of intergenerational housing, with a focus also presented by the panel experts on lifelong learning that Professor Blackberry says aimed to “challenge people’s perception that when you reach retirement, everything stops.”
The university in Albury-Wodonga also plans to hold a professional development on palliative care and older people on 19 June.