Getting to know you ..... Dr Anita Goh
Dr Anita Goh is the new Victorian AAG Division Vice-Chair. Anita leads the Huntington’s disease research lab at the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age, The University of Melbourne; and is a research fellow and project manager at the National Ageing Research Institute.
How did you hear about AAG and why did you join?
When I started my role at the National Ageing Research Institute, the Director, Professor Briony Dow, is a past President and Life Member of the AAG and outlined the many benefits of becoming a member. I love connecting with people so I joined to meet other people working in ageing.
What’s your day job and how do you engage with AAG?
I am a clinical neuropsychologist and researcher. My work focuses on cognitive health, mental health and well-being, and quality of life in ageing. I specialise in improving outcomes for people living with dementia and their family, including via interventions, improved awareness and diagnostic tools, and by investigating care delivery models. I am Deputy Chair of the Victorian division committee, and am looking forward to engaging with the AAG Victoria members so the AAG can best meet (and exceed) their expectations. The best and most important part of an association is the members!
What does AAG and gerontology mean for you?
Gerontology is not just about older people and the “declines and costs” of ageing. It is about the wonderful and rich intersections and interactions of the entire life course from childhood, to middle-age through to the end-of-life. It is about all the relationships in people’s lives and the huge contributions that people have made, and are still making, to the community.
What is the biggest challenge and opportunity for gerontology?
I think one of the big challenges for gerontology and for Australian society is changing culture and attitudes about ageing. One of the wonderful and unique opportunities about this field and AAG is the collaboration and the range of disciplines of the people working in it – including researchers, clinicians, economists, older people, and those in practice, policy, and government.
What is your favourite thing about your career?
The people! Humans are my favourite animals and I love engaging with patients in the clinic, family members, research participants, colleagues, students, and the general public. I also love the sharing of wisdom and stewardship to others, perspectives, and ability to take the long view that older people often have.
Who is your “hero” (not necessarily in the ageing space) and why?
My mother, Grace. She is a wonderful role model and taught me the importance of education, hard work, independence, and traditional values, including respecting ones elders and family values. She is also a wonderful grandmother (Popo) to my kids. I wish I had her cooking skills as well!
What is your passion?
My passion is seeing others flourish and be their best selves. I love being part of a team, helping to make a difference in the world.
What really makes you angry?
Inequality, injustice, and intolerance.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
As much as I miss my hometown of Kuala Lumpur (best food in the world!), I love Melbourne.
Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car?
I would rather dance my way there.
Who is your favourite author?
This is hard! Amy Tan was an inspiration when I was growing up in a Western world where I didn’t see much Asian representation. Books like The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife were so important. I also love people on social media, where people from diverse and traditionally underrepresented backgrounds have a platform for their voice. I appreciate the memes and dog photos.
In three words, how would your friends describe you?
I asked one of my best friends of over 15 years – she said Clever. Empathic. Engaging.
I asked my kids – they said Good, Cuddly, and Always-has-a-smile-on.
What makes you laugh the most?
My children make me laugh until tears are running down my face. My sweet 13 year old dog, Shorty. I am also a fan of puns.
What's the most daring thing you've ever done?
In 2019, I went on an expedition to Antarctica with 80 scientists, on an intense leadership course for women in science (Homeward Bound). I was in the wilderness, on a research vessel, with no internet, two very young kids back at home, with the wonderful opportunity to work on my leadership with no distractions. Also, parenthood.
What’s something exciting that’s happened to you recently?
Yesterday, my kids finally tried a new meal and it contained a vegetable.