All too often, members of mainstream society view old people as a mirror to their own futures, and fearing what they see staring back at them, push them aside - that is the view of advocate Catherine Barrett.
The founder and director of Celebrate Ageing wants to reframe the narrative to stamp out ageism, and various strategies will be explored at a two day symposium this month.
Embolden - A National Symposium on Ageing and Respect for Older People, will take place at Daylesford Town Hall in Victoria from October 3-4.
The date of the symposium is timely, falling between the International Day of Older Persons on October 1 and Ageism Awareness Day on October 7.
Dr Barrett said the symposium will look to combat ageism by exploring strategies to help society not only see old people, but see them in a new light.
"I think the real issue that we're tackling is the fact ageism is so incredibly pervasive, but it's not visible," Dr Barrett said.
"Many people can't see it... there's no motivation to be free from something we can't see."
So how to go about drawing attention to a largely invisible problem? Dr Barrett thinks the key lies in reframing the way we think and talk about old people.
"The word old is often used synonymously with something that is redundant - there's a really mixed message in there, your rights don't become redundant."
Dr Barrett is not out to stamp out use of the word 'old', but rather to reframe its meaning by reclaiming it on behalf of the senior community as a source of empowerment.
A decade ago, she was heavily involved in the campaign pushing for an end to the use of the casual and flippant use of the term 'that's so gay'. She believes removing the negative stigma related to the word 'old' could have similar benefits.
"People said you're being so precious.... but we changed that language, and that made people more aware.
"Old isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing, but we've made the word synonymous with bad. In this case it's not the language that needs to change, it's the culture."
Prominent linguist and media personality Kate Burridge will present at the symposium, speaking about how language can be used to guide change.
The event will see the launch of Celebrate Ageing's new Old is Beautiful campaign.
The initiative has seen a number of older people taking part in workshops by discussing what beautiful means to them. They then posed for a series of portraits by photographer Suzanne Phoenix, accentuating what makes them beautiful.
"We started this because we wanted older people to reclaim the word beautiful as a word for themselves, and we're taking the portraits and sharing them with the community because we want the community to think of them as beautiful and worthy."
Dr Barrett hopes accentuating the vibrancy and beauty of older people will help diminish the sense of distance other people draw to separate themselves from them.
"When there's a distance, older people become 'other'... It's the otherness that contributes to the disrespect and the family abuse and the ageism."
Another program highlight will be the Congress of Older People's Voices from the Margins.
This initiative will see older delegates from a number of marginalised communities speaking about their experiences.
Subjects covered will include ageing on a farm; Muslim immigrants; living with HIV; homeless older women; LGBTIQ+ Veterans; male care partners; both men and women living with dementia; polio survivors; older sex workers; trans and gender diverse people and women living with dementia.
"We're bringing all those older people in and saying how do we support your ageing?
"It's not respectful to not be listening to all these people who are facing unique challenges."
Tickets range from $20-$650.
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