As I continue to get invitations to attend both national and international conferences on ageing I feel more and more frustrated, knowing that the true story of ageing will not be told. In particular, such conferences are not user friendly for older people, the real experts on ageing. The current situation is quite scary for an older person in Australia and I expect for other parts of the world.

Aged care is a particular problem. If we look at the provision of other types of necessary government services, such as education and health care, there are two types of provision, government and private. My understanding is that the two areas which have not followed this established pattern pattern, aged care and early childhood education, are based on profitmaking and are having difficulties with impossible user charges as there are few, if any, not-for-profit providers, particularly governments, to provide balance.

Part of the problem with aged care is that many private providers are in it because of its reputation as an area in which good profits can be made. Recent discussion on providers cutting down food expenses to $6 per person per day and cutting down on supply of incontinence items, which can cost as little as 40c, seems to validify this. Even where providers claim to be not-for-profit I am told the directors often get round this, presumably through huge director bonuses etc. One multiple, high standard provider in NSW is genuinely not for profit, and proud of it, but this information is not easy to come by.

Much of the blame for the shameful way we treat older people is the outcome of  those who run the research conferences feeling that they know all about ageing (they’ve read a lot about it and feel that they are therefore experts). If alternately they ran conferences which enabled older people to attend, including through webinars, and participate, the conferences would more clearly reflect ageing, its delights and its problems. This lack of involvement of older people means we haven’t even left first base yet in recognising, and providing for, older people’s needs. A major part of such provision would be for older people to feel that they are a valued contributor to the community. I wonder how many aged care providers, and conference organisers, have that as their goal? Ageing should be far more than a full stomach and a warm bed to sleep in.

 

Note. I noticed that there was advertising attached to some of my earlier blogs. I apologise and hope that the problem has now been rectified.