Listening to the wisdom of age

Updated: Sep 3

Growing up, I was Lucky enough to have all 6 grandparents (yes I had 6) involved in my upbringing, I was even lucky enough to have all six alive until I was well into my 20’s. At one point in my childhood I was also raised by my grandparents. Their love, their guidance and their wisdom, I feel, has contributed to a large part of who I am today. So, in talking about senior citizens in our community, I use myself as a bit of a case study. If my grandparents could offer me so much in developing and growing, could the seniors in Moreland offer us their experience and wisdom to create better local communities.

Using the wisdom of the community should be a priority to Council, however Council has not recently been as consultative with the community as perhaps is needed, thus it has left our seniors out of important conversations. I think this is a grave misstep and should be counteracted with much more community engagement. Whilst it is often the squeakiest wheel that gets the oil, surely there is a place for more experienced and wise members of our community to contribute to public discourse and future direction.

With traditional print media declining and with the emergence of more information and discourse being delivered online this does cut some people out of the conversation. I want Council to include our senior citizens much more in public conversation, whether that be through public meetings, smaller focus groups or frequent roundtables events. We should be including our senior citizens in community life.

Not doing so we risk pushing our elders into isolation and obscurity because they can't contribute to a conversation that is on Facebook or Twitter (the bitter irony being that I can only talk about it online with you at the moment due to restrictions).

Whilst we all struggle with life in lock down it is something that the elderly in our community face every day; the isolation, the disconnection and ultimately the feeling of not being valued. This needs to change in Moreland and we need to celebrate the contribution and life efforts of our senior citizens.

A report from the Melbourne school of population and global health states “The consequences [of lonely older people] to health are dramatic, as feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, elevate blood pressure, increase morning rises in the stress hormone cortisol, alter gene expression in immune cells, increase depression and lower overall subjective well-being”. This does not sit easy with me as I feel that at a local level engagement and inclusion are things that the community and Council can do to help support our elderly. Seniors groups that focus on inclusion and participation not only benefits those involved but they benefit everyone in the community, being that one day we will all grow old and therefore we should be looking at ways in which we can participate, so that we too, don't feel the sting of loneliness.

Lastly, we must continue to maintain Council’s current services that our elderly citizens have available to them such as in-home support, transport, respite, and meal services. It has been hard during Covid-19 to make sure that everyone is catered for (literally and figuratively) however these services must not fall down the priority list, as they not only help those who received the service but those who love and care for them as well.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art” and so with that sentiment, I stand for making sure that Moreland’s elders are cared for and included in our local community for the betterment of us all.


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