The International Federation on Ageing held its 11th Global Conference in the beautiful city of Prague from 28th May to 1st June.
What an historic and fascinating location this provided for those people, like our ASCCA President Nan Bosler and a small team from YourLife Choices headed by Kaye Fallick, our Creative Writing Competition judge; and others from Australia and all over the world, who work towards greater understanding of the important role older people play in the day to day life of communities and society.
This conference was held in partnership with Zivot 90, a humanitarian organisation founded by Jan Lorman and based in Prague with Mr Lorman, a former film and theatre director, as its President. Zivot 90 is Czech for “life at 90” and the organisation aims to raise awareness about living active, fulfilling lives after retirement and offers assistance for older people in the Czech Republic.
Jan Lorman wanted the 700 Prague Conference Delegates from 66 countries too, “Jump on board with mandates for making nations and cities around the world more age-friendly”. He said, “I also look forward to the start of new policies for the ageing around the world in the Prague Declaration”. “Getting old is normal but ageing well is a great art, which deserves our admiration, “he said and added,” One of the most important human needs is the need of a relationship – we want to belong somewhere”.
The Prague Congress Centre was the venue for the 122 meetings, symposia, seminars, interactive workshops, masterclasses, screenings and an exhibition of old photographs. Recognition was made of this period in history being, “The greatest demographic upheaval in the world’s history – the juncture between localisation, urbanisation and population ageing.” It was noted that “Despite the growing understanding of the role older people play in the day-to-day life of communities and society – even in the gravest times of natural and man-made disasters – there is a lingering and pervasive stigma toward older people which often results in a violation of their rights.” Through the conference program, the protection of human rights was expressed as, “The fundamental prerequisite to an effective response to population ageing … and the recognition of important contributions older people make to the broader social and economic productivity of a nation.”
Our ASCCA President, Nan Bosler chaired two sessions at the conference and also presented two papers. Both papers reflected on how ASCCA is endeavouring to meet the objectives under the heading ‘Communication and Technology Needs’ contained in Australia’s report to the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in 2002. Nan explored two different aspects of the work of ASCCA. On the theme, “Older Persons and Development – Access to knowledge, education and training” she looked at how ASCCA’s involvement with government initiatives such as Broadband for Seniors Kiosks and the roll-out of the National Broadband Network are addressing some of those important needs.
On the theme, “Ensuring Enabling and Supportive Environments – Care and support for caregivers” Nan was able to offer helpful insights through her 13 years as a primary caregiver for her late husband Bill and show how her computer became her strongest link to the world. Nan knows that being a carer changes your life and access to information, social interaction and support is vital. She knows that carers shouldn’t feel they are alone.
There were also several pre-conference events, including the sixth BRAID Conference. Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development (BRAID) has been a 24-month project to develop plans for comprehensive Research and Technological Development (RTD) through discussions on research, exchanges of practical experiences and the exploration of visions to empower older people in Europe to live independent and fulfilled lives. As a member of the BRAID project ‘Board of Experts’ Nan presented a paper, “Keep open a door to the world”. This paper considered the impact ICT can make on the lives of Australian seniors, including those who are isolated, have special needs or are carers. During this talk, Nan showed how ASCCA provides a channel for communication between like-minded people, who want to share in the potential of the computer age to serve their individual and community goals.
Thanks to our President, Nan Bosler who, at her own expense, represented ASCCA at
the Prague “Ageing Connects” & “BRAID” Conferences.
At the Prague Conference Kaye Fallick chaired an outstanding panel discussion with the intriguing title of Connected technologies: “The good, the bad and the ugly!” Thank you Kaye for contributing this news of the conference to our Newsletter.
The 11th IFA GlobalConference took place in Prague at the end of May. Over 700 delegates from 63 countries gathered in Prague to discuss, debate and predict how an ageing world can best handle challenges. Australia punched above its weight with more delegates per capita than any other nation. Even the super-busy ASCCA President, Nan Bosler, made it to Prague to share her wisdom and ASCCA learnings on seniors and technology. Other key themes were rights, income security, access to health care, the role of technology, productive ageing, fighting isolation and the overarching theme of dignity for older people, wherever they live. There was a wealth of ideas which could be actioned now to progress the rights and dignity of older people. These ideas are not necessarily complicated, but they do progress the debate on how to manage ageing societies in a practical way.
Dignity for older people On the final day of the conference one of the more inspiring panel sessions took place under the moderation of Baroness Sally Greengrass, British politician and Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre – UK. She noted that there are two levels of human rights – the grand level promoted by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt at the end of World War II and the more practical level which will transform the lives of older citizens – and all others. Baroness Greengrass encapsulated the ageing challenge in one simple acronym: FREDA.
And concluded that if this framework is built into training all who work with older people, we can move forward with confidence. This simple acronym covers a lot of ground, offering those who work with older adults an easy reference point to check if the rights of
those adults are being observed.
But the standout moment for me was Professor Issi Doron’s impassioned plea for a radical change to the way we frame the conversation on ageing – a way to break the mould. Professor Issi Doron is a lawyer turned professor who works at Haifa University, specialising in the fields of ageing, social policy and gerontology Something is missing, he said in the final session. And then he outlined a theory of Professor Nancy Fraser on why some groups in society continue to suffer from social injustice. Whilst this theory is complex, the conclusion is sadly simple. Older people are both a despised and exploited collective. As women have suffered from social economic and cultural oppression over the centuries, so too are older people despised for both their age and their perceived inabilities. Over half the old people in the world – some 342 million – lack income security. Nearly all the older people in the world suffer from systematic stereotyping and discrimination simply because they are old. Professor Doron claims that ‘active ageing’ is merely reaffirming existing divisions. Instead, he declares, we need to be social activists if we are to fight the current injustices and stereotypes. He is right. Falling into line with the notion of ‘active ageing’ accepts the current, faulty, debate on its own terms. The women’s movement of the 50s, 60s and 70s needed to radically restructure both the terminology and the images of womanhood – away from the happy housewife and towards the independent single – before anyone could start to grasp the potential of, and possibilities for, all women.
Similarly, we need to stop talking grey, old and ageing and create new paradigms to understand the upside of mature adults. This is clearly easier said than done.
Kaye Fallick, Publisher, YOURLifeChoices magazine, e-news and website www.yourlifechoices.com.au Director, International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
Kay is also our generous ASCCA Creative Writing Competition judge (in her spare time).