Val’s story – Positive ageing (3 minute video)

2022 Senior Australian of the Year Val Dempsey discusses the impact of ageism and how she refuses to let any obstacle stand in her way.


- My name is Val Dempsey, and I've finally hit 72 years of age, and quite frankly, I have to shake myself and say, "My goodness, how did you get here?" I'm so surprised I made it, and I'm joyful because I did. 

- [Friend] What better fun can we have? 

- Ageing is a process that we will eventually all come to if we are blessed, but it is within our own culture to ignore the benefits of having the older generation around. Ageism, is like any other -ism. The perception is that you should be moving towards opting out of life. There is a point made about your ability. It is how much of a burden those people can be. A misguided perception is that you absolutely need all the help that everybody wants to offer you, and I can say that as an older person, the loss of independence or having that removed from you in a very quiet, loving, kind way is really quite deflating. In the workforce, paid workforce, age does and has come into it. I think that that's a sad thing, in a way, because as you age, you gain experience, you become a mentor. You can have that mentorship, preceptorship. Can you raise your arm up to your top shoulder? And we'll just pop it forward that's- Not for anybody should it ever involve, "And just how old are you, dear?" I mean, no, thank you. It should be, "Tell us about what you've done in your life. Tell us about your background. Where do you stand on these issues?" When you are able to perform CPR, you will call for this defibrillator, it will arrive, and it will help you save a life. 

- [Community Member] Have you used one? 

- I have used an AED. Indeed, I have. The opportunities associated with ageing are very rarely expressing the uniqueness in us all, and we all come to ageing like we do to anything, with our own personal qualities, our own uniqueness, our own individual self, and how we perceive each other and how we are perceived suddenly seems to be rolled into a ball that says, "Now you're of a certain age group, you'll play bingo on Tuesdays because that's what your age group does." I'd like to see that as we age, our uniqueness and our individuality is not only recognised, but celebrated. I'm going to give you some to take around to give to your group around the corner. I have seen so many opportunities and so many other fun things that I want to do. I don't think that if I live to one-hundred I'm ever going to squeeze in all the good things that are out there for me to do, and what does it mean if I'm a little older? Do I have to stop having all that fun? What else are you going to be doing? Ageing is a natural process. There is nothing to be feared. It is to be celebrated across all generations, everywhere. Being older is an absolute blessing because you made it. You made it. It's wonderful. It was once said, "You might want to grow old, but you never have to be old." 

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