This time next week I will be leaving to attend a conference in Hyderabad in India on ageing. I have very mixed feelings about it. I am looking forward to the conference, run by the International Federation of Ageing, as it is always good to hear the problems and successes of other countries in this field. In Australia we tend to concentrate on the negatives, how our ageing population is a problem and how much it is costing in terms of health care and accommodation for this section of the population. We never hear about the benefits of having all these wise and experienced older people which I believe should be a positive. One of the reasons health care costs among older people are rising is because we never seem to do anything positive about them. One of the great health discoveries of the last century was preventative medicine yet because it didn’t cost huge sums of money and wasn’t ‘discovered’ with the usual fanfare we don’t seem to realise what a great discovery it was. If it were introduced into ageing health not only would the costs stop spiralling but the vast majority of older people would be leading healthier (both physically and mentally) lives but be enjoying the later stages of life much more.
Meanwhile back to the conference. The Federation has members in about 67 countries I think and hopefully there will be opportunities to meet with members and exchange ideas. I hope it won’t be too big as time gets spent in getting from one venue to another rather than meeting with and talking to other delegates.
After the conference I am going on a quick trip to three other parts of the country to see some of its historical buildings and again hopefully to meet some of the residents and see how they live. Having started my life in the UK I am anxious to see what legacy we left behind there. I hope it isn’t like the legacy we left with the Aboriginals in Australia although I get the impression that poverty is blatant in India. I’m not sure I will be able to enjoy a country which has so much violence and poverty. To me the overall wealth of a country, in terms of monetary wealth, culture and general well-being should be measured by the extent of the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 10% in wealth and assets. The bigger the gap, the poorer the country. It is missing out on the talents and other attributes of large sections of its people.
There’s an interesting time ahead for me. I hope that I will find more positives than negatives.