ENTERTAINER Max Kay is a little reticent about giving out his age because he believes the world is rampant with ageism.
Whether it is at a government or corporate level, Kay, who was drawn out of 16 years of retirement two years ago to perform in the Best of British Show at the Perth Concert Hall, says it is tough for older Australians to stand up for themselves.
Kay will be doing his bit to encourage the older generation to participate in the community with an entertaining presentation Ageing Disgracefully at this month’s Care & Ageing Expo at the Perth Exhibition and Conference Centre.
In his address Kay will be giving his own perspective on ageing and ways to cope, including dealing with ageism, something he finds surprising at the lack of willingness to deal with.
An under-representation of older Australians in politics doesn’t help Kay says.
But do not ask him to go there.
He spent five years on the Perth City council, an environment in which he said he felt people did not like you whatever you did and did not seem to believe anything you had to say.
“You have to watch your back and that’s not my cup of tea,” he said.
Kay is much more comfortable on stage, where he can feel the love of an audience, something he went back to last year with a show he wrote as an Evening With Max Kay which he toured to Mandurah and Bunbury.
It was a big hit, particularly with the older generation, although Kay concedes he made a mistake in not scheduling a matinee performance which he said many older people preferred because they did not like to drive at night, either because of failing eyesight or for fear of drunk and drugged drivers.
The Scotsman, who arrived in Perth in 1967, believes people should be aging disgracefully.
“Do what you can to stay active, get in a caravan or go out to a matinee, whatever you can to keep active,” he said.
By going out Kay believes older Australians stay engaged in their community.
Kay opened the Civic Theatre in Inglewood in 1976 where he wrote, produced, and performed his own shows with a cast of dancers, singers, and actors.
The format was so successful that in 1980 he restored an old factory in Highgate at a cost of more than $1 million, turning it into one of the most respected private theatres in the country.
Post-theatre Kay focused on community goals and charitable causes, including his time on the Perth City council.
He said it was important that older people don’t allow themselves to become prisoners in their own homes.
“They have much to contribute,” he said.
“When I go into a supermarket I never ask a 16 or 17 year-old for advice, they seem to be there because it’s their job, but if you ask an older person for advice they seem to know everything because they want to be there.”
Kay is also a fan of encouraging older people to stay in their homes, to stay in their neighbourhood and if possible not to downsize so there is always a place for family.
“Don’t give your family any excuse not to visit,” he said.
“Make a point of having a family dinner once a month.
“I still have a huge family home in Menora and my family and grandchildren are here all the time.”
Max Kay will perform on the main seminar stage at the Care and Ageing Expo on Saturday, July 29 at 10.45am.
The expo is a one-stop hub to showcase products, services, information and education available for ageing, care and support for the aged service industry.
Exhibitors include residential care providers; home care providers; retirement living providers; equipment providers; service providers; health care providers (physiotherapists, cognitive therapists, counsellors etc; vulnerable care groups – indigenous, LGBT, homeless; legal, financial, banks, superfunds, insurance; medical, pharmacy; consultants; technology; NFP support groups; Local, State and Federal Government agencies; workforce, recruitment.
Five seminar presentations will be held with industry experts each day, while there will also be a music stage and a lifestyle stage featuring cooking demonstrations, travel talks, recreational talks, gardening and hobbies four times a day.
Tickets and further information is available from www.careandageingexpo.com.au.