You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2010.

My thesis is still with the examiners so while I wait I am turning my research into a readable book which allows me to move away from the stilted language of academia. This is less urgent and has no deadline so it is giving me time to pursue other things.

I was telling  a friend  that older people needed assistance with the physical aspect of ageing and going to a gym was not often our scene for a number of reasons. The next time I saw her I was given an invitation to attend a training course for community representatives on committees dealing with health issues.

Most of the staff employed in this project have disabilities, as did many of those who attended the training. What surprised me was the wonderful atmosphere. No sign of the competition that I now realise seems to permeate the world. Instead the atmosphere was wonderfully friendly and supportive and people could say what they felt without censure, and that all opinions were valid. It made me realise how much input we miss out on because people are concerned about being ridiculed or dismissed in the competitive atmosphere in which we usually run things.

As a result of this course I was invited to take part in a discussion about what I had previously heard called ‘living wills’. These are the instructions you leave, usually with a family member, in case you are not able to give them yourself, regarding resuscitation, blood transfusions etc. These are particularly important for older people. Do we want to just be left to leave this world in peace or do we want the hassle of drips and forced feeding etc.

The paper we were given to look out is the outcome of different health organisations across the country trying to achieve uniformity in language and format so that our instructions will be followed wherever we are in the country. Currently they only apply in the State or Territory where they are written and they are not available in some places. I hope that the final draft will incorporate community language that everyone can understand. The current document is written in what I call legalese and reflects the areas most of the committee members come from. It is good that it is being addressed at a national level but will be wasted if the community can’t understand it and are therefore reluctant to use it.

What surprised me was that when I mentioned that people would have different needs at different times in their lives the committee representative commented ‘That’s a good idea. I’ll make a note of it’. I would have thought it obvious that when your children are young you would want every effort made to keep you alive whereas when you are towards the end of your life you would just like to go peacefully.

I also came across a document outlining a local road safety strategy for the next couple of years. In thinking about my response I couldn’t help realising that the current dictatorial  (and revenue raising) approach is not a good way to deal with an issue which puts people’s lives at risk. I assume this is due to it being largely under police control and they have never fully endorsed public involvement and cooperation in their work. I believe that a partnership approach to road use and control would be at least worth a try given the number of road deaths and injuries.

An example of this is the announced installation of close traffic speed cameras on a road near where I live, to detect people speeding between them. As soon as they were announced there was a cry of ‘revenue raising’. I travel frequently along this road and rarely see an accident. If it is a high accident area then the police should issue the figures to prove it. Otherwise it is just another ‘us against them’ way of policing, rather than a cooperative way of approaching the problem.

Western countries believe in a democratic system but we are very select in the way they apply it. They don’t realise that cooperation actually results in more influence.

As I get older I am more inclined to question how and why things are done, rather than just accept them. I guess I am inclined to put them in perspective.