Tuesday, April 30, 2013

AGEING IN HIGH OFFICE

So refreshing for a change to listen to a top civil servant speak with a sense of humour, one who is not above making deprecating jokes about himself. Not many presidents or prime ministers would do that.

After weeks of being bombarded with pre-election campaign speeches here in Malaysia, here's one speech you wouldn't mind listening to for some laughs - all at President Obama's expense. He was speaking at the recent White House Correspondents Association's annual dinner.

Wonder how our PM would look with his wife's hairdo.



In his speech Obama talks about the ageing process, and how he needs to improve his image in his second term of office as president of the USA - all tongue in cheek, of course.


Obama has certainly aged during his first term of office.

Monday, April 29, 2013

VOTER EDUCATION 101 - KNOW WHAT TO DO ON POLLING DAY


If you think you are confused about the voting procedure come 5 May, you are not alone. Your concerns are understandable as some changes have been introduced. An example is the use of indelible ink for the first time in our election history.

Here is a guide to the voting procedure. Be familiar with what you have to do. Officers on duty will assist you. I have also appended some instructions to take note of before you go out to vote on Sunday 5 May. They are sourced from Tindak Malaysia's training workshops for polling agents, counting agents and booth agents (PACABA).



1. Be at the polling center early, as there may be a long queue due to the new polling process. Be patient and wait for your turn. Polling centers are open from 8am to 5pm. The polling center gate closes at 5:00pm sharp. If you are already inside, and in the queue, polling will continue till all in the queue have cast their vote, regardless of time.

2. Check online first at the Voter Registration website and print out your details before going to the voting center. You may be able to by-pass the barung counter since you have a printout and know where to go.

Here's a sample. Print it out as proof that you are registered. Click here to check your voter registration.

3. Bring your Identity Card (IC). If you have lost your IC, bring your temporary IC. If you have also lost your temporary IC, you can use your passport. But try to avoid using your passport as the counting agents will insist you fill up a Borang 11 which will take time.

4. Make sure your left hand index finger is clean. Any markings or stains will render you ineligible to vote. If you have a band aid plaster on that finger, you may use the right hand index finger instead. The default is the left hand index finger. The elections clerk will mark your left index finger with indelible ink. Ladies, make sure your nails are free of nail polish.


5. Important! The ink will take about 30 second to dry. Bring along a tissue to dry off your finger before holding your ballot papers. Any smudge or stain on the ballot paper will render it a spoiled vote. So be extremely careful.

6. Check your ballot paper. It must have a serial number, and clean of any extra marking or words or stains, smudge, pencil/pen marking or dots or tear on all the surface of the ballot paper. YOU CAN REJECT THE PIECE OF BALLOT PAPER AND INSIST ON A NEW ONE IF YOU SEE ANY OF THE ABOVE. Do not be intimidated by anyone there as this is your ABSOLUTE RIGHT.

7. Ensure that the clerk who hands you the ballot paper, does not write the serial number of your ballot paper next to your name on the list. He or she is supposed to just neatly cross out your name on the list. If you notice that she has written something, please raise the matter with the chief officer immediately.

8. In the event you are told that you have already voted, even though you have not, and your index finger has no ink stain, you MUST raise your objection immediately. It could mean that somebody has voted on your behalf. You will be required to fill forms to lodge your complaint. Remember, it is your constitutional right to vote.

9. Do not wear any t-shirt or buttons or hat that is aligned to any of the political parties. You will be asked to remove the item, or be disallowed to enter the polling center.

10. When casting your vote, be careful not to make any other marks on the ballot paper. You will be using a pen instead of the usual pencil. So if you make a mistake and it is accidental, please request for a new ballot paper.

11. Fold the ballot paper neatly in half checking to see that all is in order before proceeding to the ballot boxes. There will be two ballot boxes - one for Parliament and the other for State.

12. At the ballot boxes, SHOW and put the ballot papers into the corresponding box. Stand there to ensure that the officer pushes your vote into the box. Please do not have any tissue or other paper in your hands as you may be stopped for a search by the polling agent before you leave the room.

What constitutes a spoilt vote? 


Below are some samples of spoilt votes. It would be a shame to waste your vote through carelessness, so do take heed. These images are taken from yesterday's New Sunday Times.



If you have friends who are not Malaysian citizens, please advise them to stay away from all polling centers. They may want to observe out of genuine curiosity, but if they are mistaken for illegitimate voters, they may get into trouble.

Please vote wisely. It is your right to choose who you want to vote for. So please vote wisely. Do not let anyone influence you. Decide for yourself.

For more information on the 13th General Elections (PRU-13), visit the Elections Commission portal.



If you prefer to view shorter videos on voter education, click here for a wider selection.






URGENT! TO ALL VOTERS PLEASE READ THIS: (From Karpal Singh)

1. If you have voted in the past and your name is not online now, YOU CAN STILL VOTE AT THE SAME PLACE YOU VOTED LAST. KINDLY GO BACK TO THAT SAME VOTING CENTRE/SCHOOL AND ASK THE OFFICERS AT THE PAKATAN BOOTH THERE TO CHECK YOUR NAME MANUALLY FROM THE SPR SUPPLIED HARDCOPIES (NOT ONLINE).

2. Please check if you have been registered on the SPR website EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOT REGISTERED BEFORE. This is because there are many cases of unregistered voters whose names appear on the SPR website probably to allow phantom voters to use these ICs. If you fall into this group, kindly note that YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE DESPITE THE FACT THAT YOU HAD NOT REGISTERED BEFORE. In uch cases, kindly go to the respective voting centres/schools to csast your vote as early as possible, preferably by 7.45 a.m. (voting commences at 8.00 a.m.), to avoid such phantom voters using your IC numbers to cast a vote.

3. For those who registered before 31.12.2012 but whose names do not appear online now, THERE IS A HIGH POSSIBILITY THAT YOU ARE REGISTERED AND CAN VOTE. If you fall into this category, please visit/call your local prospective Pakatan ADUN or MP's operation centre and ask for your name to be checked manually from the SPR supplied hardcopies (NOT online).

3. If you find that your IC number has been used when you vote and you are unable to do so as a result, IMMEDIATELY lodge a police report or leave your contact details with our Pakatan agents at the respective Pakatan booths at your voting centres/schools.

4. DO NOT GIVE YOUR IC OR A COPY OF IT TO ANY PARTY FOR ANY REASON UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

5. If your voting centre/school that appears on the SPR website online now is different from the voting centre/school you voted at the last time, please make an effort to vote at the new voting centre/school that appears online now.

6. PLEASE MAKE AN EFFORT TO CAST YOUR VOTE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, PREFERABLY BY 7.45 A.M. (VOTING COMMENCES AT 8.00 A.M.), TO AVOID POTENTIAL VOTING IRREGULARITIES.

7. This message will be constantly updated upon discovery of other methods of fraud.

8. Please share this message with as many people as possible.

9. For further information, please contact us on 0124289476.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

AFFORDABLE SURGERY AT NO-FRILLS HOSPITALS

Click here to read more

Dr Devi Shetty. Who? Excuse me for my ignorance, but until I read about him recently in the papers, I had not heard of the good doctor and the amazing work he has done in making heart surgery and other medical procedures accessible and affordable to the millions of poor people living in the rural districts of India.

CNN-IBN named him Indian of The Year 2012 in the Public Service category. The Wall Street Journal has given him the title of The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery. He has performed over 15,000 heart operations, and was Mother Theresa's cardiac surgeon in the early 1990s and personal physician.



In 2001 Dr Shetty started the multi-specialty hospital Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital near Bangalore under the concept of a "Health City". Today the hospital has expanded into a chain of 17 hospitals in over 11 cities across the country offering a total of more than 6,000 beds. By using economies of scale he has succeeded in slashing the cost of heart surgery by as much as 50%. He aims to bring cost down even further to as low as US800 (RM2426), by building more hospitals and expanding the number of beds to 30,000 in the next five years.

For comparison, click here for the current estimated price list for various heart procedures and surgeries at the National Heart Institute of Malaysia.

Not exactly "no-frills". The hospitals are well-equipped and boast some of the world's top surgeons. No one is turned away. Those who can afford to pay do so, those who can't are charged minimal fees or not at all. The hospitals also help poor patients look for sponsors. Photos: AFP

View the interview below for more about Dr Shetty's plans for the future, and why he thinks his vision of providing the best healthcare in India at ultra-low costs is achievable. Definitely something for other countries to emulate.



“We all have one life to live and you want to do as much as you can in that. So I decided to focus on making a difference in the lives of the poor.”

Heart-warming words from a cardiac doctor with a good heart - Dr Devi Shetty.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A HOME FOR THE ELDERLY

A couple of weeks ago I visited a nursing home in Petaling Jaya to check out the place. This is a voluntary service I provide for the seniors community. I make it a point to find out as much as I can about a home or daycare centre before I recommend it to anyone who writes to Seniorsaloud to inquire on behalf of a family member.

The temporary banner at the gate will have to do till a proper signage is put up.

So there I was, on a  Monday afternoon at the gate of White Dove Retirement Nursing Home along busy Jalan Penchala, PJ. I had called earlier to make an appointment. The timing was great as Dr Ivan Bernard was there as well to check on the residents. He and his wife Sheela set up the two White Dove homes when they realized there was a growing number of elderly people in need of good nursing care.

The pictures below will give you an idea of the facilities at White Dove.

(Above) There are two White Dove homes - at No. 75 and No. 95, Jalan Penchala. This is the exterior of No 75.  The residents were enjoying some activities when I visited. A good nursing home should have a daily schedule of activities for those who are able to participate. This should include physical and mental activities that exercise the body and stimulate the mind. 

The little garden outside with benches along the wall. Look for homes that have plenty of greenery, and areas where the residents can relax, and take in some fresh air and sunshine.
The tea room and living room. Plenty of space to move around in. But I would definitely remove the carpet. The floor should be clear of any objects that might cause an elderly person to trip and fall.
A view of one of the dormitories. No rugs here to cause falls. Clean, bright and airy, with basic furniture. The elderly have few personal belongings, so a simple stack of drawers should suffice. The screen offers some privacy when needed.

After a quick tour of the premises with Dr Bernard and Sheela, I was invited to drop by at the second home just up the road. No. 95 caters to retired professionals who are still active and independent, and who prefer quiet surroundings. Obviously the charges are higher for more exclusive facilities.

The entrance to No. 95. A sizable bungalow converted into a retirement home for independent retirees who require minimal or no nursing care.
The cosy living room is like any you would find in a typical upper middle-class house.
The well-lit corridor leading off to rooms on both sides. Flowers everywhere in paintings, in vases and in every room.
A typical single room. If this were to be my room. I would want a cupboard for all my books, a bedside reading lamp, a bigger chest of drawers for my clothes and a writing table. As far as I know, no retirement home offers personalized single rooms. I am sure residents wouldn't mind paying a little extra for additional comforts.
A 3-bed room tastefully done up for those who prefer company and lower rates. 
The dining room with the kitchen in the background. I don't see the need for the grill door separating the two rooms, unless there is a safety reason for it.
Sheela and her husband Dr Bernard. Friendly and caring - the qualities all nursing care professionals must have besides the relevant paper qualifications and experience.
This wall panel caught my attention as I was about to wrap up my visit. "LOVE, PEACE, HOPE" - Well chosen words that bring comfort to the elderly. The challenge is for White Dove Homes to continue providing all three to those in their care.

There are other things to bear in mind when deciding on a nursing home. Is the support staff suitably qualified and trained? What is the staff to resident/client ratio? Are there regular visits from doctors? Are there provisions for hospital/clinic visits? What about social activities and outings? Check out the menu as well. Ask the right questions to get a clear picture of the services and facilities provided before you decide if this is where you want your loved one to spend the rest of his days.

For more information about White Dove Homes, you can contact Sheila at 016-3915819 / 012-9234389, or call the home at 03-77822413.

The address is White Dove Retirement Nursing Home, No.75, Jalan Penchala, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.

POSTSCRIPT: White Dove has since moved to new premises located at

White Dove Retirement Nursing Home
No.15, Lorong 4/49E,
46050 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.


Phone : 603-77730519
Email : whitedoveretirement@gmail.com
Homepage : www.whitedove75.com

Click here to visit their website.

For a complete checklist of what to look for in a nursing home, please click on Full Circle of Care.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

NO ESCAPING THE DIGITAL AGE FOR SENIORS

Yesterday's news is today's headlines in the print media
Woke up this morning to find the front page of my subscriber's copy of the local papers flashing STALE news. Unless they have an online edition as well, there is no way print media can keep up with up to the minute reporting of events as they unfold.

Breaking news has been streaming in fast and furious just over the past 24 hours. The best way to keep up with the latest updates on the local front and elsewhere in the world is undoubtedly via internet-ready computers, tablets and smart phones.

Which brings me to my point - the digital age is here to stay. Senior citizens need to learn how to use the internet and social media in order to keep abreast of what's happening in the world around them. Ignorance is not always bliss, not in the age of digital information.

They should stop using the excuse that they are too old to learn anything new. There are senior citizens who have email addresses, but admit they hardly ever check their email. What's the point then of having a computer and an email address? It's like having a car with a registration plate, but the owner seldom drives it.

What is this fear, this reluctance to learn how to use the computer and the Internet? We all know people in our age group who simply refuse to go near a computer, much less sign up for computer classes. I have a friend who actually takes pride in the fact that he belongs to the endangered species of computer illiterates. And he intends to keep it that way.

According to the US-based Pew Research Center’s 2012 survey on Internet usage among older people, 53% of those aged 65 and above use the Internet, up from 13% in 2000 when the first survey was carried out. The number of internet users declines significantly to about a third after age 75.

This is unfortunate as when one ages, this is the time when we become increasingly isolated from the outside world due to physical disabilities, dependence on others for transport and loss of social connections. This is the time when we would benefit the most from being able to go online to make transactions from e-banking and ordering groceries to connecting with friends via social media.

There are no statistics available for internet usage among senior citizens in Malaysia. But one can be sure the percentage of older internet users here is nowhere close to the US figures.

The benefits of being able to use the internet go way beyond getting the latest news. Once seniors learn how to google, they have access to information on practically any subject they have an interest in, from how their shares are performing in the stock market, to how to source for seed money for their new business venture, and everything in between.


Then there are the social benefits of staying connected with family and friends, of making new friends online and of sharing files, photos and videos. The elderly can enjoy online games, check out sales, make purchases and pay for them - all without stepping out of the house.

Wouldn't it be great if a company looking for ideas for its CSR program could sponsor or set up computer classes for senior citizens? There have been previous projects, but most of them are poorly managed with the result that participants slowly lose interest and drop out.

Touch-screen computers are easy for seniors to use

I like what It’s Never 2 Late is doing. This US company has placed touch-screen computer systems in 1,200 nursing homes and assisted-living communities. These computers are simplified to enable ease of usage for the elderly. It removes their inherent fear of the new and the unknown. Learning becomes non-threatening to their dignity.

If anyone out there knows of a local company willing and able to sponsor or offer beginner computer classes for seniors, please contact Seniorsaloud at seniorsaloud@gmail.com.




Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SEX AND ROMANCE IN THE GOLDEN YEARS PLUS NORDIC WALKING

With Jagjeet, more popularly known as Mrs J
If you were at the Star Health Fair last Sunday morning, you would have been drawn to the music and laughter coming from Hall 3.

What was going on? Senior citizens were doing the macarena led by Mrs J. She was prepping them physically to get in the mood for her talk "Sex and Romance in the Golden Years".

I have known Mrs J since our teaching days back in the 1980s. She and her husband were featured in Seniorsaloud second blog post "Forever Young" in May 2008. Five years on, Mrs J is still looking fabulous at 73, and still as feisty.

"Raise your hands - how many of you sleep in separate beds, or separate rooms?" Mrs J asked her silver-haired audience. I had expected a no-holds barred session, and Mrs J didn't disappoint.

Here are some of the slides from her one-hour presentation to share with those who were unable to make it last Sunday morning because they were attending church services or celebrating Vasakhi, the Sikh New Year.

In general, middle-aged Asian couples have more conservative views about sex and intimacy than their western counterparts.
So true! The changes we go through as we age are mostly physical and external. We are still the same person inside, perhaps a bit more mellow.
Thanks to the little blue pill and personal lubricants, elderly couples can still enjoy sexual intimacy
Mrs J lamented the rise in divorce among older couples. "I don't believe in throwing away a relationship that took 40 years to build. Challenges should strengthen love, not erode it," she told the audience.

Mrs J's message to older couples - "Never too late for intimacy, sex and romance. Go on, do it!"

How does one rekindle romance in the golden years? When a couple has spent more than half a lifetime together, they often take each other for granted. They are so comfortable with each other that they no longer see the need to delight each other with little romantic gestures.

"Go for a vacation together, just the two of you," suggests Mrs J. "Rediscover each other." She also shared personal stories from her 50-year marriage, and recommended that we use the 5 Languages of Love as a guide.

Later that afternoon, Mrs J and her team gave a demonstration on Nordic Walking. She is the only certified coach in Malaysia trained to conduct classes on Nordic Walking.

"A few years ago, my knees gave way. They literally buckled under me. I experienced such excruciating pain each time I took a step. I tried all kinds of treatments, but nothing worked. Then one morning I saw my neighbors exercising. They were walking briskly with a pair of 'sticks'. Their backs were straight, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. They told me they were 'Nordic Walking'. I googled the term, and that's how it all started. I took up Nordic Walking, and the rest is history. It gave me back my active lifestyle. I did a certification course in Australia, and today I conduct Nordic Walking sessions every weekend in my neighborhood, " explained Mrs J.

Mrs J and her team of Nordic walkers
Here's a video demonstration of Nordic Walking that Mrs J shared with the audience. Her talk generated so much interest that many stayed back to ask questions. If you would like to know more about Nordic Walking, you can contact Mrs J at mrsjageetmrsj@gmail.com