I handed my thesis in at the beginning of February expecting it to be a big relief. Instead it was the start of a new nightmare. Mysupervisor refused to sign it and the next one up the hierarchy took weeks to decide that he didn’t know anything about the subject. Eventually he decided he wouldn’t sign it either and I finally asked the University to submit it on my behalf which they did four months after I first handed it in. They want three examiners and only two had been organised so the third will be sent it later.

This has been a huge learning experience. Had I known anything about Ph D’s when I started I would have insisted on having a panel familiar with my topic- it didn’t occur to me that people without such knowledge would agree to participate. Many of the comments they made about my first draft were entirely inappropriate and made me realise the extent of their lack of knowledge. I couldn’t bear to go through that procedure again which is why I just wanted the University to submit the final version, with the risk of failure.

I have two options from here. If at least two of the examiners give it a pass ranking  then I can go ahead and graduate, possibly after making the usual alterations, and it will all be over. If not, people from a higher ranking university have suggested that I transfer there. It will mean waiting another year to submit but for an older person time is of less consequence. 

Meanwhile I am becoming even more convinced that my research is valuable so I have already started to turn it into a book. Most of the first world countries have ageing populations but the response universally seems to wring their hands and wonder how they will meet the cost and how they will manage with a dwindling workforce. Meanwhile they treat the evergrowing ageing population as useless, just as they used to treat coloured people and women. We need to put ageism in the same trash can as racism and sexism as all three are unproductive. It is easy to argue that a country which does not provide equal opportunities for its female members of the population, for example, is only running on half power. In a few years a quarter of the Australian population will be over 65; if we treat them as useless as we do now we will be losing a quarter of our power, or more, as people who age in this environment will need expensive support.

It is estimated that by 2050 over 1 million Australians will have Alzheimer’s disease, which is expensive for the community and disastrous for the sufferers and their families. Yet most research is concentrated on finding a cure, rather than the cheaper prevention. By treating the main target group for the disease as incompetent and a nuisance, we don’t seem to realise that we are adding to the problem.

My thesis, if it ever gets accepted, will sit on a dusty shelf in a University library. Hopefully my book will reach a wider audience.

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