Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DO'S AND DON'TS FOR WELL-MEANING FRIENDS


The past week has been a rough one for the family, but thanks to the prayers and support of friends and relatives, Antares has pulled through and is now on the road to full recovery. But do wait till he's much stronger before visiting him at the hospital.

With this good news I feel it's the right time for me to share some do's and don'ts for well-meaning folks planning to visit a patient in the ICU. I've compiled this list based on my personal observations over the past few days, and also on my own experience in the ICU last year.

DON'T

  • sit in on the doctor's medical briefings for the family. No doctor would invite an outsider unless the latter is a medical professional who has something vital to contribute.


  • prescribe alternative therapies or MLM-type health products for the patient. By doing so, you only confuse the patient's family and put unwanted pressure on them. Let the doctors do the job they have been trained for. They are in the best position to administer the appropriate treatment as they have access to the patient's test results and know the patient's medical condition.


  • visit the patient in the ICU, especially if he is under sedation. He won't even know you are there. Besides, you may be exposing him to bacterial infection and you may even be at risk of getting infected! This was a major concern of the doctors. All the more so as visitors to the ICU at this particular hospital for infectious diseases are not required to wear a facial mask. I found this rather shocking.


  • pose as family members or medical doctors in order to gain access to the patient or patient's medical records. When the real family members turn up, the busy doctors are understandably reluctant to have to repeat the medical updates all over again.


  • post confidential medical details of the patient on social networking sites for all and sundry to read. Only the immediate family has the right to do this, if they choose to.


  • call up the family at odd hours to inquire about the patient, or worse still, get into an argument about the best course of action to take.

  • insult family members by calling them names. This is totally unacceptable and unwarranted. The focus should be on the patient's speedy recovery, not on petty issues blown up by bruised egos.
My grandson, Max, is a superhero!

DO

  • respect the wishes of the patient's family. Often these wishes are also the wishes of the patient himself. He may not want friends to see him in a weakened state with tubes sticking out all over. Also, he may not have the energy yet to deal with a constant stream of visitors.


  • pray for the patient and send him empowering thoughts and feelings. This is the best approach and the most effective when the patient is still in the ICU.


  • wait till the patient is in the general ward and is strong enough to receive visits from friends. Once the family receives the doctor's all-clear signal for visits, the good news will be relayed to friends and relatives.


  • check all info before relaying it to others. The most reliable source of info is from the patient's family. A sicko 'friend' posted an entry on a blog a few days ago announcing the demise of our loved one!! Think of how distressed we were when we read it.

To all friends and relatives who have supported us through the ordeal, thank you again. And for the coming new year, may we all look forward to enjoying GOOD HEALTH the whole year through and beyond.


Monday, December 28, 2009

DEAR FRIENDS...

Just in case you are wondering why there has been no updates on Seniorsaloud of late, I am finding some difficulty getting my thoughts together.

A close family member has been warded in the ICU at a local hospital. My family and I have been visiting every day. Today is Day 4. While his condition has improved, he is still under heavy sedation. Friends and family members are praying for his speedy recovery.

In the meantime, I shall be taking blog leave for a couple more days....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A JOYFUL CHRISTMAS & A FABULOUS NEW YEAR!


To all my friends and fellow bloggers, thank you for your support and for keeping this blog going. Here's a video message by Kate Nowak that I would like to share with all of you.



May I wish you a JOYOUS CHRISTMAS and a FABULOUS NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WHERE GOURMETS AND GLUTTONS GATHER

Hutong @ Lot 10

I don't usually blog about food. But when I read that the old food court at Lot 10 had been given a total makeover and that Tan Sri Dr Francis Yeoh had personally selected his family favourites for the food court, I just had to check the place out.

Strolling along the narrow aisles just like in a courtyard in old China.

The queues can be quite long during lunch hour.

Hutong @ Lot 10 boasts 26 stalls selling all-time favourites including beef noodles, Ipoh chicken rice, siew pau, dim sum, hokkien mee and fried kwei teow. I spied a couple of "non-halal" signs which means pork dishes are served at some of the stalls.

Care for some German sausages and sauerkraut?

Although the food is mostly Chinese, there are enough stalls catering to non-Chinese patrons. The only stall that seems somewhat out of place is Bavaria. It serves German food and beer.

Fried oyster omelette to die for!

I ordered a plate of fried oyster omelette. It was one of the best I had tasted. My only complaint was the amount - way too little for RM10.40 (inclusive of tax). For dessert I had ice kacang. This was a huge disappointment. At RM4.75 a bowl, I had expected more colour and more ingredients. There was no "attap chee" or nuts - two of my must-have ingredients.

This stall is not going to be around much longer if the ice kacang doesn't improve.

An utter disappointment! Lacks colour, ingredients and imagination.

Shoppers in the Bukit Bintang area have plenty of makan places to choose from. Just 100 metres down the road is Pavilion's Food Republic. It's a gourmet haven and glutton paradise rolled into one.

Tomorrow I'll be checking out my favourite rojak stall at Singapore's Food Republic, Wisma Atria. My taste buds are already tingling with anticipation!

Monday, December 21, 2009

WORLD'S SEXIEST VEGETARIANS OVER 50

My cousin, Henry, sent me this video yesterday. Featured in the video is Mimi Kirk, the 2009 winner of PETA's Sexiest Vegetarians Over 50 Contest in the women's category. You won't believe how old she is!



The winner in the men's category is Julian Winter. Click here for the full line-up of the finalists.

Mimi Kirk and Julian Winter (Photo: PETA)


I've never really liked eating meat anyway, but since my liver operation last June 2008, by choice meat has been off my diet completely. My staples are vegetables and fish. If I can look half as good as Mimi at 70, I'll even give up seafood altogether and live on vegetables, fruits and nuts!

Do I miss satay, beef ball noodles, char siew, chicken curry, rendang and sup kambing? Not at all. I value my health more than fleeting moments of gastronomic pleasure.

Enough said, or I'll be upsetting my carnivorous friends! :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SPARE PARTS FOR THE ELDERLY


Advances in science are fast blurring the fine line between fiction and fantasy. Remember the 1970s hit TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man" and the spin-off "Bionic Woman"? These fictitious heroic characters were fitted with bionic spare parts after they were severely injured in accidents.

Fast foward to 2009. Researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK are working on a project (click to watch the video) that will add another 50 years to the life span of those aged 50 and above. The university's bioengineering unit is the world leader in artificial joint replacement research.




The parts that can be fully replaced, hopefully, by 2015. (Graphics: BBC News)


Initially the project will focus on areas most affected by ageing: joints, teeth, spine, heart and circulation. At the centre of this £50 million 5-year project is a technique called 'scaffolding'. It is a method of tissue and medical engineering that strips the living cells from donated human parts, leaving just the collagen of the tissue. This 'scaffold' can then be transplanted into the patient with less risk of rejection which is the main reason for transplant failure.

This is truly exciting stuff and great news for the 50plus. The only drawback for now is that the technique is not applicable to whole organs. Not yet anyway.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BED OF NAILS -THE LATEST HEALTH FAD?

The Swedish Shakti mat

The fakir version

One of the hottest health products currently drawing both devotees and cynics alike is the updated version of the bed of nails. Nope, I am not referring to the bed of iron nails that Hindu fakirs lie on, or the type used in martial arts demonstration.


The Swedish Shakti mat is ringing up the cash registers across Europe. Consisting of a light foam rubber pad and embedded with 4,000-8,000 small hard plastic disks with sharp little spikes, the Shakti is reputed to induce relaxation, improve sleep, and relieve lower back pain.

A close-up of the spikes. Apparently lying on these spikes helps to improve blood circulation.


To date, there has been no scientific evidence of these health claims. I have yet to try out the mat. But for a first-hand account, read Robert Hardman's article in The Daily Mail.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SOME MEN JUST DON"T LEARN

Tiger Woods' fall from his lofty pedestal has set me wondering again about the sanctity of marriage. I'm trying my best to understand the male species. Isn't one woman enough, especially if she is as good-looking, smart and classy as Elin Nordegren? Some guys obviously haven't learned from others before them that they risk losing everything when they cheat on their wife.

Statistics on adultery are hard to come by. How many married men would want to admit they have broken their marriage vows?

Is it true that few men are satisfied with one woman? Is sex addiction for real or just an excuse to indulge in forbidden pleasures?

It used to be the men who would balk at the thought of marriage. Now the women are beginning to feel that way too. I know of many lady friends who would rather stay single than be stuck in a marriage with an unfaithful husband.

Sure, there are women who cheat on their partners too. But they are the exception rather than the rule. Extra-marital affairs can ruin a man's political career, damage his reputation, and cause him financial ruin. But men are ever so accepting of their own kind. To quote Playboy's Hugh Hefner, "What's the big deal? Monogamy is over-rated anyway."
My stand on this: If a man has no qualms breaking a vow he made before God, he should have the guts to come clean with his wife and be prepared to accept the consequences.

If a man knows deep in his heart that he might stray, then he should not propose marriage to his girl in the first place. He could have saved her all the heartache, anguish and loss of self-worth.

Men are lucky that women are so forgiving. Most wives take their cheating husbands back, and it's almost always because of the children. Few would react like Ivana Trump - "Don't get mad. Get everything!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MATERIAL WEALTH vs HAPPINESS

Singapore self-made millionaire, best-selling author and top peak performance coach, Adam Khoo, has certainly come a long way since I first heard him speak at a preview in 2004.

What better time than the school holidays for parents and their school-going children to pick up some sound advice on spending from Adam Khoo. Come to think of it, our adult children should read this too. We can all do with less extravagance and wasteful spending, especially with Christmas, traditionally the season of giving, just around the corner.

Some of you may already know that I travel around the region pretty frequently, having to visit and conduct seminars at my offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and China. I am in the airport almost every other week so I get to bump into many people who have attended my seminars or have read my books.

Recently, someone came up to me on a plane to KL and looked rather shocked. He asked, 'How come a millionaire like you is travelling economy?' My reply was, 'That's why I am a millionaire.' He still looked pretty confused.


This again confirms that greatest lie ever told about wealth (which I wrote about in my latest book 'Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires'). Note: Adam has since written more books, the latest one on generating wealth is "Profit from the Panic". It was launched in January 2009.


Many people have been brainwashed to think that millionaires have to wear Gucci, Hugo Boss, Rolex, and sit on first class in air travel. This is why so many people never become rich because the moment that they earn more money, they think that it is only natural that they spend more, putting them back to square one.

The truth is that most self-made millionaires are frugal and only spend on what is necessary and of value. That is why they are able to accumulate and multiply their wealth so much faster.

Over the last 7 years, I have saved about 80% of my income while today I save only about 60% (because I have my wife, mother in law, 2 maids, 2 kids, etc.. to support).. Still, it is way above most people who save 10% of their income (if they are lucky).

I refuse to buy a first class ticket or to buy a $300 shirt because I think that it is a complete waste of money. However, I happily pay $1,300 to send my 2-year old daughter to Julia Gabriel Speech and Drama without thinking twice.

When I joined the YEO (Young Entrepreneur's Organization) a few years back (YEO is an exclusive club open to those who are under 40 and make over $1m a year in their own business) I discovered that those who were self-made thought like me. Many of them with net worth well over $5m, travelled economy class and some even drove Toyota's and Nissans, not Audis, Mercs, BMWs.

I noticed that it was only those who never had to work hard to build their own wealth (there were also a few ministers' and tycoons' sons in the club) who spent like there was no tomorrow. Somehow, when you did not have to build everything from scratch, you do not really value money. This is precisely the reason why a family's wealth (no matter how much) rarely lasts past the third generation.

Thank God my rich dad foresaw this terrible possibility and refused to give me a cent to start my business.

Then some people ask me, 'What is the point in making so much money if you don't enjoy it?' The thing is that I don't really find happiness in buying branded clothes, jewellery or sitting first class. Even if buying something makes me happy it is only for a while, it does not last.

Material happiness never lasts, it just gives you a quick fix. After a while you feel lousy again and have to buy the next thing which you think will make you happy. I always think that if you need material things to make you happy, then you live a pretty sad and unfulfilled life.

Instead, what makes me happy is when I see my children laughing and playing and learning so fast. What makes me happy is when I see my companies and trainers reaching more and more people every year in so many more countries.

What makes me really happy is when I read all the emails about how my books and seminars have touched and inspired someone's life.

What makes me really happy is reading all your wonderful posts about how this blog is inspiring you. This happiness makes me feel really good for a long time, much, much more than what a Rolex would do for me.

I think the point I want to put across is that happiness must come from doing your life's work (be it teaching, building homes, designing, trading, winning tournaments etc) and the money that comes is only a by-product. If you hate what you are doing and rely on the money you earn to make you happy by buying stuff, then I think that you are living a life of meaninglessness."

At that 2004 preview I bought a copy of Adam Khoo's fourth book "Master Your Mind, Design Your Destiny". He wrote this in the inside cover - LILY, LIVE YOUR DREAMS. I'm glad to report that I've been doing just that, Adam. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

RUNNING LIFE'S MARATHON

It saddens me whenever I hear of someone I know having health problems or going through depression. The eternal optimist in me refuses to accept that as we age, our physical and mental health deteriorate. Sure, we slow down and we see more lines on our face and more folds on our body, but that doesn't mean that we have to sit and watch passively as life goes by, or withdraw from life altogether. Perhaps it is because I have had the good fortune of meeting people who are well into their 80s and 90s, and who are enjoying life. For them, there is still so much to look forward to.


I am reminded again of Teresa Hsu, Singapore's most celebrated supercentenarian. At 112, she is the oldest person I have met. Teresa is, without doubt, my model for ageing gracefully. I first met her in October 2008 at a privately-organized talk where she was the guest speaker. My daughter, Belle, and I were so inspired by Teresa that we have maintained contact with her to this day.


Like a little girl flying her first kite. What a picture of pure joy! (Photo: Belle)

I am sharing some photos of Teresa here to give some hope and cheer to those of my friends who feel that there is less to be joyful about as age encroaches. Like a marathon runner, we should look at every milestone as an achievement, whether it's the 80th, 90th or 100th milestone. Don't think of 78 as waiting at death's door. The race might still be far from over for you.

Supercentenarian Teresa was thrilled to accept my daughter's invitation to attend Tony Robbins' "Unleash the Power Within" seminar. Tony was honoured to meet Teresa. (Photo: Belle)


Left: Visiting Teresa at her home in Singapore. You can see she's very playful and loves a good laugh. Right: Teresa in our hotel room to catch a bird's eye view of the Formula One night race.


Teresa's home library. She loves books and reads without the aid of glasses. Here she's browsing through Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now". (Photo: Belle)

And if you do have to go, enjoy the time you have left. Remember Professor Randy Pausch? (Click on the link to view the video.) When his doctors told him he had only a few months to live, instead of sitting around waiting for his Doomsday, he packed as much as he could into those remaining few months of his life.

I'm always on the lookout for senior citizens who inspire us to live life with joy and purpose. That is one reason why I started the "Seniors in the News" column in my blog. There are lessons we can learn from each and every one of these remarkable seniors. The common thread that runs through all of them is they have a passion that keeps them going. They are all ordinary people like you and me. If they can do it, so can we. We must find that JOIE DE VIVRE. Perhaps this is the key to longevity.

Friday, December 4, 2009

TRAVEL PHOTOS THEN AND NOW

This bird's eye-view shot of the Alhambra complex was taken on 25 Nov. The sky was a clear azure blue.


Technology has come a long way since 1975 when I made my first trip abroad. It's so convenient now to snap hundreds of holiday photos and upload them to your pc in a jiffy. I remember a time when we had to buy rolls of film - Kodak 100, 200, 400 - to slot into our camera. Each roll could take only 12, 24 or 36 pictures. Then we had to take the film to the photo shop (not the software program) to be processed into colour prints at 25-30 cents a piece.

Hey, we were still doing this only a few years ago!

Today I have nothing left to help me remember that maiden trip to India. The photos that I took then have either turned mouldy or lost all the colours. All that's left are hazy memories of my 'coming-of-age' holiday backpacking alone all across northern India and Nepal. What an adventure that was. If only I still had the photos to show my grandchildren!

Well, here are a few more random shots from my Spain vacation.

Hill slopes planted with rows upon rows of olive trees.


Ladies, be more sensible about the shoes you wear on a walking tour, or the excess weight you carry.

Would you believe our tour bus had to cut across the runway at the airport in Gibraltar?

Taxi drivers refer to their copy of the fares listed before they charge you. It's all standardized.


The trains are gleaming clean. Note the handle on the head-rest of the seat for a standing passenger to hold on to.


On the AirAsiaX flight back from London, I paid a whopping RM36 for a 350 ml bottle of mineral water and a meal consisting of some rice with chickpea curry, a few tiny mushrooms, a thin slice of red capsicum and three florets of broccoli that were steamed to a yellowish death.

Tomorrow it's over to Phuket for the weekend. More blue skies and blue seas. It'll be almost like the Costa del Sol in Spain all over again.



Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ARE HOSPITAL ERRORS ON THE RISE?

Statistics of reported cases in the US from 1995 to Sept 2009. Note what's at the top of the list. (From Joint Commission website.)


Just after praising Singapore's healthcare system in my last blog, I read today that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has received reports of 401 cases of hospital errors over the past seven years. In 2002, the MOH made it mandatory for hospitals to report such errors. This works out to one case a week. Among the cases was a patient who had the wrong knee cap replaced. Luckily it wasn't the wrong leg amputated!

Fortunately, most of the cases involved swabs left in the patient after surgery or wrong drugs administered to patients. I remember the last time I was in Singapore I read that two women patients were given chemotherapy drugs over hours instead of days. Luckily for the hospital, the women survived.

Singapore is among several countries in the world with a sentinel system that keeps a record of such cases of error with the aim of learning from them. Hospitals in Singapore are given a week to report the cases and two months to implement steps to ensure that similar errors do not recur, or their license will be revoked. Definitely a step in the right direction.

The overall percentage of hospital errors may be insignificant. But to the patients at the receiving end, it is not a matter to shrug off easily. They may have to endure unnecessary pain, and in some cases, the loss of a limb, or worse, their life. And what about the extra expenses incurred on medical rehabilitation?
That's me just before my liver operation on June 26, 2008.
I am reminded of my emergency liver operation last year. I had it done in Singapore. I was told it was related to the surgery I had 20 years ago to remove my gall bladder. Apparently that surgery could have been done better. It did enter my mind that I could have a legal case against that first doctor.

I wonder how many hospital mishaps in Malaysia go unreported. Most people wouldn't know if their doctors had left anything in them after a surgical procedure unless they experienced some pain or discomfort.

I am sure many of us have tales to tell about our own hospital experience. I look at the young doctors in our teaching hospitals and wonder how many of them are really cut out for the profession.
Have entry requirements into medical school been lowered to meet the pressing demand for more doctors in our country? Are our doctors so overworked that when they enter the operation room, they may not be fully alert or fully focused on the surgery they have to perform?

It's a scary thought. All we can do is to say our prayers that God will guide the hands of the doctor holding the knife.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SINGAPORE - A GREAT PLACE FOR RETIREES?


No matter how much one enjoys a vacation abroad, it is always good to be back home. I suppose this is more so for most Singaporeans. I say this because CNN recently came out with 50 reasons why it rates Singapore the world's greatest city. I don't know if I would lavish such generous praise, but I can easily think of 10 reasons why I would put Singapore on my list of top 5 cities or countries I would consider spending my retirement years.

    On-going campaign to empower the elderly.

  • Active Ageing programs. I have lots of options when it comes to checking out events and activities of special interest to those in the 50+ age group. There is a Minister in charge of Ageing Issues. It also helps that former PM Lee Kuan Yew, 86, is himself an excellent role model for active, healthy ageing. There is a vibrant community of senior citizens here.
  • Reliable public transport. I can travel to all corners of the island republic without any hassle. Whether I take the bus or the MRT, waiting time is minimal. Taxi drivers take you anywhere you want. Taxis are clean, spacious and smell good too. Taxi drivers don't rip you off. My daughter once left her mobile phone in a taxi. She was able to trace the taxi-driver from the fare receipt, and she got her phone back within minutes.

  • This is actually an underground MRT station. Almost like a gleaming new shopping complex!

  • Security. I feel safe walking around the city even late at night. I don't have to look over my shoulder all the time, or clutch my bag tightly in crowded places. No wonder it is hard to spot a policeman anywhere - they are almost redundant!
  • Cleanliness. I'm sure there are areas like Chinatown that could do with a scrub-down. But on the whole, food courts, parks, public toilets and public housing areas are clean. The water is safe for drinking straight from the tap. There is little air pollution despite the heavy traffic.
  • Efficiency. Everything works in Singapore like a well-oiled machine. Hardly any public property or facilities stay broken, faulty or damaged for long. And I have yet to come across vandalism of any kind. The best part is you don't have to bribe anyone to get things done for you.
  • Healthcare. I give two thumbs up for the healthcare and medical services here. I had my liver operation done here last year and I can personally vouch for the professionalism and expertise of the doctors. All my medical and dental check-ups are also done here.

  • Singaporeans love to eat. So when in Singapore, do as the Singaporeans...

  • Food. Singapore is a food paradise. I get hungry just thinking of the rich variety of local and international cuisine. Among my favourite makan places are Food Republic at Wisma Atria and Pete's Place at the Grand Hyatt. You get salad to die for!
  • Shopping. Well, I'm not exactly crazy about shopping, but you can get the latest electronic gadgets here as well as good bargains for clothes when there is a sale. For me, I can spend hours browsing at Kinokuniya and Borders in Orchard Road. I always make sure I pick up the latest copy of Prime and Silver Lining.

  • Shops and more shops along Orchard Road.

  • Customer service. My favourite haunts are the bookstores. The sales assistants are ever so helpful and courteous in helping me locate what I want. I once overheard a sales assistant apologize to a young couple. The shop did not carry the item they were looking for. The sales assistant went one step further. He gave the couple directions to another shop that sold the item. Now that's what I call good customer service. If you need a plumber or an electrician, just call, and one will appear at your doorstep shortly.
  • Greenery. There's lots of it on the island, even in the city centre. My grandchildren often go for walks in the Botanical Gardens with their parents. The parks are elderly-friendly, with lots of benches where you can sit and rest for as long as you want.

The city never sleeps, even late at night.

There is always plenty to see and do in Singapore - plays, movies, exhibitions, seminars and so on. I get to see movies that are banned in Malaysia like "Brokeback Mountain", "The Passion of the Christ" and "Milk".

Many older Malaysians have adult children working or studying in Singapore. I read recently that half of the doctors in Mount Elizabeth Hospital are Malaysians!

Would I apply for permanent residence (PR) in Singapore? The thought has crossed my mind a few times. But I love Malaysia. And I can think of just as many reasons why Malaysia is a great country to retire in. None of them has to do with the government.