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I have just reread a post I wrote in January trying to predict where I would be going this year. I have finally reached one milestone. The University have decided that they will award me a PhD. at the end of this month. It ends almost 8 years of study through a very rocky road. I started out with a supervisor who didn’t tell me she didn’t know anything about my topic and wasn’t really interested. Finally I was able to transfer to a panel who were not only knowledgeable but who were also anxious for me to succeed. The only remaining problem to having my research recognised is/was the fact that the majority of researchers in the field of gerontology are younger people who have come into it because they don’t have much competition and they aren’t really interested to the extent that they don’t use the real experts in the field, older people themselves, in their research. If you question this, look at the introductions to their work. They don’t give the impression that older people have been involved.  As an older person myself I often read their work with indignation knowing that they are frequently getting it wrong.

My research really took off when the aged care service providers discovered me and my research and liked what they found. I have far more support from them at conferences and what impresses me is that they listen to what I have to say and then try to apply it to what they are doing in their work. An example of this is an invitation to write an article for their national magazine in a section which invites controversy! The only comment was that I was being a bit too polite!

Next week I will be in Seoul for the World Congress on Gerontology and Geriatrics. The latter group are usually a bit more open minded as long as they aren’t too technical so that non-medical people can understand them. I am presenting 1 oral paper and 3 posters. The latter have been an interesting exercise. There are likely to be a large number of posters so I am trying to be controversial with my layout and background colour. More commercial than academic but still conveying my research I hope.

At two previous conferences I have been physically shoved out of the way by other participants. After all I am an older person and that is the way we are treated. I just don’t expect it amongst academics and professionals.

Hopefully it will be a good conference and I will learn a lot. With people coming from all over the world, including Russia and Iran, it has the potential to be really good and help move the field of ageing towards where it should be.

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