Symposium challenges perceptions, policies on ageing

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Experts on ageing will challenge perceptions and policies that limit life for older Australians at a high level research and practice innovation symposium in Melbourne today.

The Wicking Symposium: Ageing and Alzheimer’s Funding Outcomes in Research and Practice will provide a timely focus on the latest in research and thinking on ageing and Alzheimer’s, particularly in light of recent Federal Budget measures that affect older Australians.

David Hetherington, executive director of Per Capita, who will open the public forum with an overview on ageing in Australia, says the nation needs to shift away from the misguided orthodox perception of ageing as a stage of “decline and decay”.

“We regularly debate the “challenges” presented by an ageing population as though ageing was something to be feared and shunned,” he said.

“Instead we should choose to see longer lives as a social and economic good.”

One of a series of presentations on practice innovation will position the emerging area of research and practice around affirmation of the spiritual element of ageing, particularly in those 80 years +, as a vital part of holistic care.

Keynote speakers will include Dr Patricia Edgar AM, author of In Praise of Ageing and an ambassador for the National Ageing Research Institute, who will call for better research and policies to address discrimination in the workplace that keeps so many older Australians out of jobs and fails to recognise their contribution in other ways, including as carers.

Professor Brian Howe AO, a member of the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, established by the former Gillard Labor Government, will outline an ageing “blueprint” on consumer perspectives and priorities, while University of Melbourne Professor Simon Biggs, will provide international perspectives on an ageing society.

The Wicking Trust was established to achieve enduring, positive impact in the areas of aged care and Alzheimer’s Disease. Managed by Equity Trustees, it distributes around $5 million in grants each year.

Its annual symposium provides a forum for successful grant recipients and thought leaders in the areas of Alzheimer’s and ageing to focus on research, policy and practice.

Media representatives are welcome to attend the forum. Please note that Dr Edgar, Professor Howe and Professor Simon Biggs will speak in the afternoon session, from 1.30pm. See here for the full program.

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7 August 2014