Scroll down to read a brief personal statement from each of the founding committee members describing why they want to be a part of The AGEncy Project.
Dr Margot Woods
Working as a general practitioner for many years has given me the privilege of being involved in many people’s lives on a close and intimate level. From birth to death, I have seen those on the journey succeed and other times struggle to find the right path.
I have learnt from my patients that ageing can be a time of joy and fulfilment but also a
time of loneliness, loss of purpose and loss of connection. I believe that we can all learn from each other and the collective knowledge can help us all make the journey a better one.
I have seen some not get to old age and they especially, have made me feel ageing is a privilege and it should be embraced and done as well as possible.
Raising children who I can honestly say, make me proud each day makes me feel I am leaving a legacy. I hope that my children want to see me when I’m old but I do not feel it’s their responsibility to look after me and certainly I have no right to make them feel obligated. I want them to explore and grow as much as possible and I’d love to watch this happen, not hold them back or burden them.
Teaching the next generation of medical professionals will hopefully help them learn to respect and value those who are ageing for the life they have had and to support them to make decisions true to themselves. This is a hope for all of us, however, they will be my doctors so it’s also personal!
It is also important to me to tread lightly on the earth. Living sustainably and making it easier for others to live sustainably is an important goal for me.
My generation have done it our way. We have had the world at our feet and we have embraced it. Blessed by the time and place of birth, this has allowed us time to learn and grow and that life experience is now ready to be added back to the community.
Health is much larger than our physical health, it’s how we connected to our community and our environment. If we get those wrong, we can’t be well and healthy. We need to ensure that we keep connected to community and feel we have a role and purpose or we will age faster and lose ourselves. Communities are rich, diverse and complex and being isolated from our community as many of us are as we age, decreases the value of the aged person’s life and the richness of the community.
Joining the AGEncy Project is the way I see to fulfil the dream of ageing well, with dignity, comfort, connectedness and value leaving a way forward to be improved by those who follow. I want to embrace aging as another stage of life-with its joys and challenges just like all the other stages.
Let me keep my AGEncy. Let me do it my way.
David (Dizzy) Scandol
I am honoured to be a member of the founding committee for the AGEncy Project. I believe we have assembled a group that is passionate, effective and qualified to create a vision for the future that will make Australian society a better place to grow old in. As an orphan I have not had to deal with ageing parents, but I have watched my step mothers, aunts and contemporary’s parents, with a certain ‘apprehension’. I think my biggest concerns are around becoming a burden to my family (I don’t want them to feel like visiting me is a chore). I also want to maintain the highest possible lifestyle in terms of intellectual stimulation, community connection and physical lifestyle (food, activity etc).
My vision is to move into somewhere that I would like to go when I am 70 as opposed to forced into when I am 80. I want to be with my friends and in my local community. The chance of my children and grandchildren living close to me are slim, so I need to be as independent of them as possible. I want activities to keep me engaged, fit and entertained. However I also realise that one day, I will need physical, mental and social support close by. Support for maintenance of my home, support for IT or whatever new technologies that will be part of our lives in the 2030s. Emotional support that is not necessarily provided by my family. Physical support in the form of being wheelchair friendly, design-sensitive to the challenges of dementia, supportive of transport needs if required and so on.
I also want to be as independent of the government as I possibly can be. The cost to society for keeping us all is going to be borne by increasingly fewer taxpayers. It feels to me that if it comes to paying for my hip replacement, or paying for my grandchild’s education, the governments of the future are going to have some tough decisions to make. The more we can rely on each other, and find cost savings through communal sharing of resources and direct management, the easier it should be to fund ourselves for as long as possible. Finally I like to lead change and try to think outside the square. Is there is a better way of doing it? If so, let’s try and find it. What is happening in the rest of the world? Is there something sitting under our noses that no one else has thought of? Unless you trawl the ocean, you are never going to find the pearls.
I have several reasons for wanting to be involved – both personal and professional, as
well as generally wanting to see change and innovation to improve the experience of ageing for all of us. I have been interested in ageing issues and aged care for over 15 years, since becoming a writer and later the editor of a magazine and website on ageing. I did that job for nine years.
Through attending multiple conferences every year and progressively becoming more informed and involved I have become a passionate advocate for ageing well. While I am interested in ageing issues across the broad spectrum, I have long held a strong personal interest in housing and urban design and their relationship to ageing well. The AGEncy project closely represents a loosely held vision I have had for several years about how I would choose to live in my 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, should I be able to choose an optimum situation.
Prof Caroline Homer
Being a woman in her 50s with no children, I have often thought about how it will be when I am old. Will there be anyone around to come and visit me in my nursing home? How will I make sure I continue to feel supported in the community? How will I not be a burden on my nieces – lovely as they are – I am sure they will have enough on their plates with their own ageing parents without having an elderly aunt to worry about – especially one that is likely to be quite clear about what she wants and how things should be done (ie. an aunt who is likely to be hard work!).
So, for the last few years I have been talking to my friends about building the perfect, special and posh, ‘nursing home’. One where I can be around people who I love and who I have grown up with over many decades. One where I can make choices about how I live, what I do and ultimately, how I will live my final days. One where I get to do the things I love to do and which give me happiness. One where I can be old but still continue to contribute to society. And finally, one where I can, if I chose to, enjoy a gin and tonic every day and have some great people to share this experience with.
This perfect, special and posh ‘nursing home’ concept has developed into the AGEncy project; a project being developed with like-minded, thoughtful and creative people. We don’t really know what it is yet or how it will all work – we are going on the journey and trusting that the process will make it clear – or at least clearer. I am sure it will be so much better than a nursing home – it will be a place to live and thrive amongst friends. I am convinced that doing it this way is the right way and taking control of my future early is the key to success in this phase of my life.
I’m an architect with a longstanding interest and over 15 years experience in designing buildings, spaces and places that support ageing well. After many years visiting, studying, designing and writing about environments for older people, I am committed to and advocate for creating better places to grow old in.
A few years ago I completed a travelling scholarship looking at innovative buildings for older people in Europe and one of the best options I saw was a self-owned and operated community in Switzerland, similar to the co-housing model, started by friends who wanted to make their own place to grow old in. It was wonderful, like a series of airy, light filled, loft apartments. Ever since then one of my goals has been to try to create a similar situation here. So my main reason for being on the committee is to use whatever experience, knowledge and skills I can to make this happen.
I have seen it in operation and have spoken to people involved and believe it can be done – and once done, it can be replicated to provide another and in many ways, better, alternative to traditional accommodation for older people. So there is also a legacy aspect. I want to create the sort of environment that I would like to grow old in and I want to live there too of course – if they’ll have me!
I think it is important to contribute to social change if you think things can improve. I see the difficulties of the current aged care system and don’t wish to see myself in one of the facilities currently on offer. I believe it is time to rethink the way aged care is managed and we may well be able to create something that is very beneficial to us, and to others to come.
I see the AGEncy Project as being akin to the creation of a sort of ‘club’ of like-minded
people at a similar stage of life, planning now for life at the next stage. In addition I see the Project as an ‘insurance policy’ of sorts. Who knows how circumstances will change over the next 10-15 years? But if I am in the Balmain area, all other things being equal, I like the idea of a ‘post work’, consciously developed, sharing oriented local community in which to live as long as it is feasible. So I am glad to participate in a group to work on this.