Archives for posts with tag: conference

I have just come back from a conference on the coast on aged care and feel so refreshed. I hadn’t realised until I got home just how bogged down I had been in everyday life.

I deliberately chose a motel to stay in which was in walking distance of both the conference venue and the shops, yet was on the riverfront. I was able to park my car and walk everywhere. When I went out it meant a walk along the side of the river with quite a lot of bird life and little pedestrian or car traffic. I could even see the river when I sat outside my unit. Peace. Watching the tidal flow was also a reminder of the bigger world we are part of.

Most of the other conference participants were people involved in the ‘hands on’ care of older people. These professionals are the salt of the earth. If we had more people of their calibre what a better place the world would be. This was in the week in which the lists of the richest women were published. I am always reminded that these people don’t actually make money themselves – they just acquire the money, already in circulation, from other people. What a huge contrast between the two groups. What a different world it would be if those involved in the care of older people had a bigger say in the way the world is run.

There are so many different aspects to the type of care older people need, including the importance of dental care. If people don’t have access to this and their teeth decay, then they have problems eating, and the type of foods they are able to eat. This often makes a balanced diet difficult to achieve. For people in residential care, arrangements usually have to be made not only to get an appointment with a dentist, made more difficult if they can’t afford private care, but also the transport required to take them there. There was one story of an elderly person not being able to identify her own dentures from the 3 sets in front of her. When teeth are not properly looked after it makes it more difficult for nurses caring for them.

Added to the problems associated with dental health are other areas of concern such as incontinence which I am told affects 1 in 3 older people. This figure makes it even more important that information about pelvic floor exercises, and the importance of them, be more widely known.

I am sure that as we age we don’t want to think of these issues and the fact that they may apply to us, not just other older people, regardless of who we are. We just have to be thankful that there are wonderful people who will look after us when we need it.

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.