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This congress is being held in a couple of week’s time in

Paris. At last count over 5300 people had registered to attend. This should be

good news for older people, but from past experience of conferences on ageing I

am feeling cynical. I suspect that most of the speakers will be younger people,

and most of the audience will be younger people, with very little representation

from older people themselves.

A hundred years ago women were considered too stupid to present papers at

conferences on women’s issues- they were run by men. Most of the audience were

men with just a few token women. Will we have to wait another hundred years

before the genuine voices of older people are heard at conferences and in

research papers on ageing?

Far too often research papers presented, and published, on ageing by

younger people have big holes in them. This is hardly surprising as the

only information younger researchers have about ageing is from what

they read, information also usually written by other younger people. Worse

still, researchers don’t include older people in their research. Good research

involves the target audience in developing the research question, designing the

research instrument (e.g. questionnaire), analysing the results and writing up

the report. Most ageing research does none of this. In the few cases where older

people are involved they are usually in a subservient position and are not

encouraged to contribute their own ideas or make any tangible

suggestions.

I submitted a paper for an oral presentation for the conference. It was

knocked back but I was told I could do a poster (meanwhile, two of my colleagues

in their early thirties had their papers on ageing accepted!). I don’t normally

like posters but as I am nearing the end of my research for a Ph D I decided it

would be a good opportunity to raise some of the issues above. I have included a

message to say that I will include what I would have said in my presentation if

I had been allowed give it on this web site.

I will post it before I leave for Paris.

Older people are forming an ever increasing proportion of populations in both

developed and developing countries. It will be disastrous if our voices cannot

be heard.

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