Ageing? Where are you going to be?

Kai Faulkner – 11988021

Over the past weeks I spent a lot of time talking to my grandmother. She is an intelligent woman who during her eventful life has had a range of professions including being a scientist, and she has been fortunate enough to live overseas in many different countries including Canada, England and parts of Europe. She is also a very deep thinker and has a thirst of knowledge for how the future might end up resolving itself and also of her role in the development of past events. In the interview I conducted with her we talked about her current lifestyle, where she sees herself living over the next 15-20 years and about her engagement within the community.

She thinks that by the year 2030, where she will be aged 86, she will still be alive judging by current statistics and the fact that she has no medical conditions. “With modern technology, the chances are I will still be driving. These self driving cars are pretty much a turning point.” It is good here to see that there are members of the aging population that are optimistic about the rise of technology rather than being scared of it. “It’s really hard to know though, there are so many variables (regarding mental and physical health). I’d like to be attending exercise classes of some kind, reading, travelling and keeping in touch with current affairs and politics”

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Photo 1: The central concourse at Chatswood is a location for shopping and general assembly of people. Shown here is a circular, semi-sculptural, seating location. As can be seen, it does get used by people, but perhaps it is not the best use of space and also not so good for the ageing generation.

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Photo 2: A broader view down Chatswood concourse shows some seating, however it is clear to see that it is a boring space. Why would anyone really want to spend a prolonged period of time here.

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Photo 3: When I arrived in Hong Kong en-route to Beijing, I went exploring and found Victoria park. This was an amazing space I found and all throughout it you could find people partaking in ‘tai che’ and other activities. Having such an open outdoor space in a busy city like Hong Kong is refreshing.

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Photo 4: As can be seen in this photo, there are many shaded seats and also a dedicated loop jogging track for exercise. This was very heavily used by all ages ranging from young adult through the elderly. Also around the park were exercise stations where many people including the elderly were able to get a free workout.

We talked a bit about engagement within the community and Marilyn brought up that she is not currently doing any voluntary work, but being in her 70’s and still physically able, she would really like to, and she plans to do so. “I have a lot of friends through aerobic dancing, Probus club and family connections.” “Voluntary work in the area of people with disabilities would be amazing. I’m not so keen on aged care.” I found it interesting that she explicitly expressed not wanting to work in aged care. But possibly working with refugees, or meals on wheels. There are really many options when it comes to voluntary work in Australia and I think that could be an interesting area particularly when it comes to engaging the elderly generation.

Marilyn had an interesting theory about why many people particularly from the younger generation find it difficult to empathise with and design effectively for aging people. The problem is people don’t generally find the elderly attractive. ‘Maybe they shouldn’t be out here? Why are they here?” She went on to talk about how you can feel a bit annoyed by them being in the way. Elderly people shouldn’t be slowing people down, looking pathetic. They should stay shut up at home. But then she made the observation that the Asian population seem to really respect elderly people. When she was working, she had this young Korean lady working for her and she was always just so respectful and kind.

Overall, some very interesting insight was gained through these observations and interview process. This is just a first attempt at an empathy task and hopefully over the coming experience in Beijing I can broaden my learning’s to a much greater extent.

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