By Catherine Duggan. Photo by: Maura Hickey

The theme of the recent Third Act Conference, which took place on 25th April 2016 in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin was

Gearing up for Your Third Act

The Third Act, as explained by Dr Edward Kelly, Founder of The Third Act Organisation is a time of transition when individuals move from one phase of their lives to the next. It’s a time of change, of re-evaluation, new opportunities, challenges and the re-invention of the self.  As we now live approximately 25 to 30 years longer than our great-grandparents, it’s important to counteract negative stereotypes and beliefs and embrace The Third Act.


Human longevity has created a new Third Act in our lives,
as different to our second as our Second Act was to our first.

Dr. Edward Kelly – Founder of The Third Act

Dr. Kelly explained how The Third act was an opportunity for growth and development. That the current mindset and negative stereotypes needed to be address and challenged. Currently the response to older people is one of fear and anxiety. He advised that the individual must take ownership and responsibility and ask themselves the question What does it me to me?  Once answered The Process of Change can begin.

Nick Owen, author and facilitator addressed a cultural myth:

Once we’ve reached our pensionable age, we’ve served our purpose.

He suggested that this myth and others be counteracted by sharing real stories about third actors. He highlighted the story of the Australian farmer Cliff Young (61) – Ultramarathon Runner who won the world’s toughest race.

Keynote speaker Rudi Westendorp, professor of medicine and author of Growing Older without Feeling Old shared his knowledge and insights into the ageing process.  In his view,

Ageing is almost like teenage sex, everybody talks about it,
but they don’t really know what it is!

He believes that in order to age successfully, people should be helped to live socially rewarding lives. They should also be empowered to make decisions for themselves about whatever medical interventions they may need. Being active and having a positive outlook also increases wellbeing during the ageing process, as echoed by Professor Ian Robertson later in a panel discussion.

During the conference several expert speakers participated in the panel discussion. This was facilitated by Denise Charlton who has 30 years’ experience of leading voluntary organisations at local, national and EU level.

Anne Connolly, founder of ISAX spoke about successful older entrepreneurs.  She mentioned an upcoming Start Your Own Business Programme for aspiring entrepreneurs aged 55+ being led by Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange (ISAX) and sponsored by Bank of Ireland. This event is takes place on Thursday 19th May 2016 in the House of Lords, Central Bank of Ireland Dublin.

Professor Ian Robertson, Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin and founding director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience explained how dopamine is critical for proper brain function especially as we age. Dopamine can be produced by cultivating positive attitudes and beliefs.

Declan Hanley, Head of Planning at Davy gave financial truths and consequences about planning for the years ahead

Kingsley Aikins, Founder Diaspora Matters shared his insights and learning’s from his own Transition Process into The Third Act, especially the importance and power of relationships.

After the panel discussion Tara Wilson presented and explained the self-organising and self management principles which constituted The Third Act Organisation. Dr Kelly stated that this process is still evolving.

As the conference concluded it was clear that the attendees had a wealth of knowledge and experience that was of major benefit and value to our society.  There was a feeling of a paradigm shift away from the myths, negative stereotypes, traditional understanding of retirement and ageing into a new, exciting and fulfilling era of self determination and psychological development for these Third Actors.

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