Friday, May 11, 2012

THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF LONGEVITY

Straits Times May 11

Thanks to better healthcare and medical advances, we now enjoy a longer life span. Unfortunately, not everyone benefits from the longevity bonus. There will be some among us who may suffer from chronic health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes. Or face varying degrees of functional decline like impaired vision, incontinence, loss of hearing and libido. The list goes on.

According to the research findings presented at the annual Singapore Conference on Ageing held on May 10, there is much we can do to ensure we live to a ripe old age and still enjoy relatively good mental and physical health.

Here are the recommendations based on the research studies:

Slide from Reuben Ng's presentation on "Increase Longevity from Positive Perception of Retirement" . Reuben is a Fulbright scholar currently doing his PhD in Public Health at Yale University.

  • Manage your anger. Keep your temper and your impatience under control. Or suffer the risk of high blood pressure which can lead to stroke, and which in turn puts you at higher risk of getting dementia.
  • Develop a positive self-perception of ageing. If you do, you get to live several years longer compared to people who have a negative attitude towards retirement and ageing.
Slide from Christine Fock's presentation on "Rise of the Silver Generation - Building a Healthy Population". She is Deputy Director, Ageing Division of the Health Promotion Board, Singapore.

  • Drink lots of tea. It lowers the incidence of depression.
  • Watch your diet. Go for healthier methods of cooking like steaming and boiling rather than deep frying.
From Health Promotion Board. Plenty of useful tips on their website for healthy ageing. Click on  http://www.hpb.gov.sg/healthyageing/default.aspx .

  • Do strength training. It will give you strong bones and reduce the risk of fractures in falls.
  • Opt for daily brisk walking to keep fit.
Dr Lee Chong Kau, founder of the Institute of Elders, spoke on the positive effects on mental health of joyful group singing and the camaraderie generated during rehearsals.

  • Take up a hobby, especially one that involves social interaction with others e.g. art classes, choral singing, community services, etc.
  • Get involved with support groups if you are a caregiver. If you are stressed out, you may a poor caregiver. Know when to take a break and not feel guilty about letting someone else help out.
A/Prof Goh Lee Gan shares the 7 Steps to Mind Your Mind for early prevention of dementia. Find out more from the website at http://mindyourmind.org.au/


To sum up, there's nothing like education, awareness and early preparation to increase our chances of living a long and healthy life. Retirement planning should not focus mainly on financial preparation, but also on the physiological and pyschological aspects as well.



2 comments:

Paul Stiner said...

I think the risk outweigh the cost here. I hate that one day I might get any combination of those diseases, but being able to see what the world has come to and how its still growing is well worth any foreseeable pain. I'm old, but I'm optimistic about our future. Have you seen Ray Kursweil's documentary on "singularity"?

el-f said...

Thanks for alerting me to the documentary. Amazing stuff, absolutely fascinating.