Never too old to dream a new dream


  • Spring 2019
  • Feature

University of Melbourne graduate Lorna Prendergast says it never occurred to her that achieving a master’s degree at 90 was so unusual.

Nothing was further from my mind when I enrolled,” Lorna says of the Masters in Ageing she completed entirely online.

“I wanted to find out more about music improving the lives of people with dementia,” she explains.

“I knew music wasn’t a cure, but as no cure has eventuated yet, it seemed necessary to work with anything available that could complement pharmacology. Something that may give temporary relief without the side effects some medications have, and is much less expensive.”

As her knowledge grew, so too did Lorna’s commitment to sharing crucial learnings with her peers. A welcome side effect, she hopes, of the publicity surrounding her graduation.

“The general public are not sufficiently aware of music assisting people with dementia,” she says.

“As dementia is increasing at a very rapid rate, it may be a good idea to emulate the anti-cancer publicity. The ‘Slip, Slop. Slap!’ slogan made people aware that they needed to protect themselves against too much sun. In the same way, we need to make people more mindful of the magic of music. Used as a part of reminiscence therapy, it helps people with dementia recall past memories which helps them socialise with friends and family.”

From Bairnsdale in rural Victoria, Lorna says that in the same way she refuses to allow geography to limit her learning, older people must not be limited by their age.

“It would be nice if our culture more readily recognised the wealth of knowledge older people have acquired and offered them the opportunity to share their wisdom of a lifetime”

“It would be nice if our culture more readily recognised the wealth of knowledge older people have acquired and offered them the opportunity to share their wisdom of a lifetime,” she says.

“The Ford motor company in the United States went down to the workshop floor and asked staff what they wanted [in order to] retain their older workers. They had realised it takes new employees a few years to get up to scratch and losing older workers meant losing those valuable skills; that’s a realisation we need to reach across the board.

“To older people like myself, I can only quote C.S. Lewis: ‘You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream’.”


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Better with age
  • Spring 2019
  • Partners

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