Starting the conversations with older people

Seniors Rights Victoria’s often uses conversation seeds by way of image props and discussions in their community education sessions, with many of the current talks listed on the WEAAD website.

Community education coordinator Gary Ferguson and a team of volunteer peer educators enjoy the sessions, helping older people and the professionals working with them to understand how they can prevent elder abuse. For a community educator’s perspective read Gina’s story.

The conversation seeds, such as the image pictured, are used as a starting point for their discussions about elder abuse, the link to ageism and the rights of older people. This image illustrates Lloyd Kahn’s skateboarding story which began at the age of 64. The image is him at 79 years still pursuing his passion. When he was 66 years old he fell off and broke his left arm. The treating doctor at the hospital didn’t tell Lloyd he was too old, but attended to his broken arm and advised how he could skateboard safely by wearing protective gear.

“The topics of ageism and elder abuse present different opportunities and challenges for the initiator of the conversation. Elder abuse is mostly preventable and therefore having conversations can equip the community with knowledge and information to address elder abuse and stop it from happening,” Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey said.

“Conversations about difficult topics, such as elder abuse, can be helpful in exploring the issue and lead to people becoming more empowered to assert their rights. Conversations might lead to people disclosing that they’re being abused or mistreated and will therefore provide an opportunity to inform about the availability of support and assistance”.

Ms Blakey said conversations aren’t intended to provide all the answers about elder abuse, but rather to trigger thinking and discussion about the issue and increase people’s knowledge.

She said conversations and narratives also have a natural place in cross cultural groups of seniors where stories have been used historically.

Talks as part of WEAAD this year include events at Warrnambool, Heidelberg West, Murrumbeena, Collingwood, Burwood, Broadford, Altona and Morwell, often in partnership with other organisations.

Feedback from events hosted earlier this year have been very positive:

“The presentation was brilliant with a great deal of material covered but with humour and anticipation to keep the audience involved. The audience learnt a great deal which has already been put to use. The handouts were handy too”.

“(Appreciated Seniors Rights Victoria) Giving such appropriate and timely awareness of this important service, in a manner that was professional and appropriate to our group. We will certainly recommend that other PROBUS clubs also use the service and speaking personally, I now know where to go if I ever have an issue – which may well be the case as we are considering sometime in the next few years, moving to a village of some sort. I know some of our other members are having similar plans…”