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Intouch : In Touch Issue 77
News www.alzheimers.org.au In touch Winter 2011 11 “Can we really expect staff to don a different set of values when they put the uniform on? If the rest of us, the rest of society, don’t appear to value older people, why should they? “When we consider how we can improve the way older people are treated in general, we should look not only at nurses and care workers, but I believe at ourselves. We should ask ourselves, why are we so terrified of growing old? “Why do we neglect old people, shove them in the corner and expect them to die without making too much fuss about it? Why does the media, at worst, ignore old people, and, at best, patronise them? Why is media skewed towards the notion that the only people worth attracting, worth bothering with, are aged between 18 and 34? “When we close our eyes to the older generation, consigning them to the footlocker of priority where they can curl up quietly and die, we overlook the relationship between young and old. Positive ageing “What I believe, and what I have come to understand through my work as Dignity Ambassador, is that the growing problem of dementia – the dementia catastrophe as it was being called in Britain earlier this week – cannot be seen in isolation from the greater overall problem of how, as a society, we treat old people. Our indifference to a valuable, wonderful asset is as wasteful as it is insulting. “We need to celebrate the business of growing old instead of fearing it. The wisdom, the experience and maturity should be seen as a valuable asset, and not a sad decline. I mean we’re all going to get there, so let’s do everything we can to enjoy the journey. “Let’s promote the thought: it’s better to travel in style, than in fear. Let us also find inspiration, as I did, and comfort in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who said: ‘Age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress. And as the evening twilight fades away the sky is filled with stars invisible by day’.” The lunch was generously sponsored by Bupa Care Services Australia and generously supported by Guardian Funerals and NRMA Motoring & Services. This is an edited version of Sir Michael Parkinson’s speech. WE NEED TO CELEBRATE THE BUSINESS OF GROWING OLD INSTEAD OF FEARING IT. Sir Michael Parkinson spoke about his mother Freda and his experiences as National Dignity Ambassador. AlzNSW’s Ambassadors PJ Lane, Maxine McKew, Sir Michael Parkinson, Ita Buttrose, Natarsha Belling and Doris Younanne supported the event. COVER FEATURE
In Touch Issue 76
In Touch Issue 78