Age Scotland hosts first national conference on wellbeing in later life

Age Scotland’s first national conference took place in Perth yesterday. Later Life: Tae Mak it Worth Bein’, saw more than 300 people from across Scotland come together to discuss and debate the issues around wellbeing in later life. Here, Age Scotland’s Katrina Coutts outlines the day.    

As a nation we’re living longer, but are we living well? That’s what we wanted to discuss at our first national conference yesterday at Perth Concert Hall – and what a day it was.

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The auditorium at Perth Concert Hall

Paul Adams, Chair of Age Scotland, kicked off proceedings, explaining how this year – the fifth since the Charity was formed following the merger of Age Concern Scotland and Help the Aged in Scotland – had been a fitting time to bring together members from right across the country for the first time.

The day was chaired by Pennie Taylor, BBC Scotland’s first health correspondent, who got amongst the audience to discuss questions throughout the day including, ‘what words sum up later life in Scotland’, ‘how can we improve later life’ and ‘how can we ensure the contribution to society of those in later life is recognised and valued’.

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Pennie Taylor gets amongst the audience to gather people’s thoughts on later life in Scotland

Guests, who had travelled from as far afield as Orkney and Arran, were treated to a mix of presentations from speakers who not only informed, but had us laughing, getting involved and even balancing on one foot.

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Bob Laventure, suggested balancing on one foot while brushing your teeth is an easy way to incorporate activity and improve balance.

Physical activity expert Bob Laventure inspired many with his call for a social movement of older people to make exercise a normal part of our lives.

Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead, tackled the day’s subject in her own unique way, including both fantastic poetry and, perhaps less expectedly, extolling the virtues of leopard-print.

Carol Craig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-Being, shared stories about her experiences with her parents as they aged.

In the afternoon former footballer Jim Leishman MBE took the stage by storm with an uplifting message that we’re each in charge of the positivity in our own lives.

Speaking duties were brought to a close by Professor Ian Deary from the University of Edinburgh who shared some of the many findings that his team has so far made into differences in people’s cognitive and brain ageing. Just so you know, Professor Deary explained their is no ‘magic bullet’ that can ensure you stay mentally able in later life, but instead many factors have relatively small effects. We’ll be sharing more about this with you in our next edition of our Advantage magazine, but tying nicely with Bob Laventure’s earlier presentation, he explained there is strong evidence that physical fitness boosts the brain as well as the body.

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Age Scotland’s Chair Paul Adams (l) and Chief Executive Brian Sloan (r) with guest speakers Liz Lochhead and Brian Sloan.

The overwhelming feedback from the day was that it had showed later life in a positive light, and we hope guests went away energised and full of ideas to spread around their groups across the country.

We’ll be sharing more details from the day’s presentations and discussions over the coming weeks, but for now I’ll leave you with the closing remark of our Chief Executive Brian Sloan. “Let’s fill this half glass that’s always referred to. Let’s make it full.”

Guests discuss the day's questions.

Guests discuss the day’s questions.

Photos by Louis Flood.

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