Programme for week commencing 2nd May, 2013
With over 50 years of practical experience as a professional water diviner (dowser), George gives Rotary the opportunity to develop a community intervention to help the positive ageing process and give Service above Self.
On Monday 29th April I went to meet George Applegate a former Rotarian with over 60 years of Service to his name, George came to our attention as someone who RIBI had followed up as leaving Rotary in the past year. On investigation and talking to George it was due to his Rotary Club closing down in Trowbridge that he now found himself an ex-member of Rotary. An experienced practical water finder, Chartered Engineer, who is well know across the world for his water and oil divining, when offered the chance to re-join Rotary through an eClub he was really enthused. So my visit was to get George connected into our website and to Facebook, as we want to get George helping with Service through Facebook and helping with ‘positive ageing projects’. I’m wondering if George and others who he feels would be interested could also help with mentoring new members to our eClub about Rotary, something to explore as we progress. What does strike me though, having visited George and experiencing his excitement and enthusiasm for Rotary, it is important we work to help others stay in Rotary and through E-Rotary continue to give Service through internet connections.
Currently at the moment there is also a lot of interest in Inter-generational projects, again is this something Rotary could really embrace, Rotarians like George working with Interact or Rotaract Clubs to build relationships with older people to help develop new skills through the internet, the arts and socialising. Whilst George develops his skills of using our website and facebook we can continue to explore whether Rotary can really engage in this important community intervention.
Tuesday 30th April in my work role I attend a really interesting workshop entitled ‘Overcoming Age Barriers and Building Cross-Generational Relationships’ run by the Wiltshire Equality Network. Our first speaker Jayne Funnell from AgeUK challenged us to think of Barriers to Ageing, as she said ‘we are all born and all die so we need to be preparing for death from birth’, in that we needed to consider positive ageing. Linked with my meeting with George I was getting excited, this was an area Rotary could really embrace and definitely it was about ‘We’re for communities’
Ageing is a multidimensional and complex process and therefore it seems logical that no two people will experience the ageing process in the same way, so the term ‘positive ageing’ will have a personal meaning for every individual. There do however appear to be common themes that emerge from asking people to define their view.
- People want to maintain their quality of life and well-being
- They want to remain valued members of their families and communities
- They want to maintain their health
- People want to make their own decisions, their own choices and be responsible for themselves
- They want to be listened to
- They want to live in their place of choice
- People recognise that they might need support as they age but they want it to be the right support that meets their individual needs
- They want a degree of financial security
- They want to live in safe communities
- They want to have a network of friends
- Poor Health is seen as a huge barrier to positive ageing resulting in problems such as decreased mobility or cognitive functioning can lead to a limitation in activity levels and a person’s ability to remain engaged in social networks and communities, leading to isolation and loneliness. The Campaign to End loneliness estimates that 20% of people over 65 in the UK are lonely.
- Physical or emotional distance from family or friends
- Bereavement and loss also affect attitude to ageing
- Ageing is often defined too much in terms of decline, dependency and frailty and the negative message that this portrays. It is not viewed as a time of new opportunities, freedoms, challenges and experiences.
- Elements of society often perceive older people as an economic burden rather than an asset.
One or two of her points really rang bells for me in regards to Rotary and its future development, for instance ‘Getting older people to seek to empower their peers’, she said that in the next two decades people over 80 will treble and over 90 double, they need to be part of how our communities can thrive both economically and socially. She said that many older people feel there is an expectation on how they should act and behave, so many did conform to this expectation, while in our society today there is an obsession with youth culture. She felt organisations needed to become more people centred. It was important to encourage physical health and mental well being, with an importance on valuing people for who they are and what they can offer.
What can Rotary do to reduce these barriers?
By using our Rotarians and Interactors I believe we could ensure we help our communities to develop Facebook strategies to help those who feel lonely become engaged again. Provide opportunities that invest in the assets offered by older people whilst ensuring we build a programme that gives them new life.
So the hope is working with Rotarian George and others we can come up with schemes, projects and innovative ideas whereby Rotary can provide community interventions providing new challenges , experiences and social interactions that can help with ‘positive ageing’ and improve the well being of older people in our communities.
The ideas around inter-generational work fits so well with next year’s Rotary theme ‘Engage Rotary – Change Lives’ .
Please add any ideas you may have…..