Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RETIREMENT UTOPIA - IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT

Here's one more item to add to my wish list - a week's stay at The Villages, Florida. To own a home there would be beyond my wildest dream.

The name is a misnomer, for The Villages boasts a population of more than 110,000 residents, with an average age of 65.5. Situated about 100km northwest of Orlando, The Villages is reputed to be the world's largest retirement community, and is growing rapidly.


The Villages offer a multitude of facilities to keep active retirees busy and entertained all-day and all-year long. From shopping and dining to sports and entertainment, The Villages has it all. It also has a lifelong learning center where residents could sign up for classes on a wide range of hobbies and skills.

Images from The Villages website

Or they could choose to do nothing at all except play golf for free at any of the 42 golf courses. Not surprising the main mode of transport here is by electric-powered golf cart, each one customized to the fancies of the owner.

Images from The Villages website

Prices of a new home start from USD 150,000, depending on whether it a designer home, villa or cottage. A fully-furnished 3-room home rents from USD3800 a month. Crime is almost non-existent, and there is no traffic jam or pollution. Also no children. They can visit but not reside.

Rules are set by the The Holding Company owned by the Morse family who began developing The Villages back in 1980s. They own everything here including the local newspaper, a radio station and a TV channel.

Singapore's first retirement village to be ready end of 2017 - The Hillford

Resort living does not come cheap, but there is a growing demand for such a retirement village for the more affluent retirees in Singapore and Malaysia. The wait may soon be over for Singapore retirees as the first retirement village, The Hillford, is due for completion end of 2017.

Malaysia's first retirement village, Green Acres, is expected to be completed in early 2016

As for Malaysia, the first retirement village already had its soft launch recently, and is due for completion in the first quarter of 2016. This is the much-heralded Green Acres in Ipoh, comprising 110 units priced from RM300,000. Another is Eden-on-the-Park in Kuching, Sarawak. It is marketed as the 'first Integrated Senior Lifestyle and Care Residence Resort facility in Malaysia'.

An artist's impression of Eden-on-the-Park, consisting of luxury apartments, villas and aged-care facilities.



As the population of Singapore and Malaysia ages, it can only be good news for companies that operate retirement homes. Purpose-built housing for retirees is indeed a sunrise industry for the sunset community.

For a virtual tour of the facilities in The Villages, watch the video below. Will the first retirement villages in Singapore and Malaysia offer resort living similar to that at The Villages? We'll have to wait and see.



Monday, July 28, 2014

SELAMAT HARI RAYA


Thursday, July 24, 2014

AN ONLINE PORTAL TO ENGAGE SENIORS

Council for Third Age (C3A), Singapore launched its Chinese portal yesterday at the National Library. SeniorsAloud was invited to attend the ceremony.

In his speech at the ceremony, MP Mr Heng Chee How said, "Society's perception of seniors can only change with our seniors' perception of themselves. I am happy to note that many of our seniors are embarking on their active ageing journey, leading active and healthy lifestyles.

There is also a growing number of seniors participating in the myriad of programmes available for them to pick up new skills, discover new interests and hobbies, and stay engaged in lifelong learning in their silver years....One area where seniors are interested in is that of technology. Seniors today have access to technology and many are using it to stay in touch with their friends and relatives through various platforms, including social media.

Not many countries have a minister in charge of Active
Ageing and Employability. The government takes the
challenges of an ageing population seriously.
Thus it is most timely that Council for Third Age is launching a Chinese portal, after having achieved success with their current English portal which has reached out to more than 200,000 visitors since its inception in 2012."

Well said, Minister! Exactly why SeniorsAloud places priority in encouraging seniors to pick up some pc skills to enable them to go online to learn, discover and connect. Oh, and to enjoy too. The benefits are endless.

Seniors present at the launch were shown a step by step guide on how to navigate the portal so that they could easily explore all the features on their own at home. These include upcoming activities, recipes, videos, discounts, and much more.

You can access the C3A portal at www.c3a.org.sg/. Lots of goodies for seniors, especially if you live in Singapore.

The launch also saw participants of the Kopi and Toast buddy programme receiving their Certificates of Completion from the Minister. This is a 6-month mentor-mentee programme where an active senior is paired with a less active senior to build a meaningful friendship of mutual support through activities and learning. The mentors are given free training by C3A prior to matching them with a buddy each. Thumbs up for this initiative, C3A!

Some of the mentors (kopi) after receiving their certificates from Mr Heng Chee How
The mentees (toast) posing with Mdm Chua Foo Yong, Chairman of C3A and Mr Heng Chee How.
Mentee Mdm Sunita Khemlani was happy to have participated in the programme and made new friends.

For a guide to what's available on the C3A portal, please watch the video below. Do share the link with Chinese-speaking seniors. Just click on the language icon on the top right corner of the C3A home page to switch from one language to the other.


Monday, July 21, 2014

SPARE A THOUGHT FOR MAS AND THE CABIN STAFF

Much has been written about the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 on 17 July and the disappearance of MH370 on 8 March. The two incidents occurred barely four months apart and both involved our national airline. A total of 537 innocent lives were lost. The nation is still reeling from shock and disbelief. For the grieving families, no words can fully describe the pain and anguish they must feel to lose their loved ones so suddenly, so tragically. Our deepest condolences go out to them.
I could sense an air of heaviness at KLIA. The departure lounge was quieter than usual. Some MAS flights were cancelled probably due to low passenger load. 

Last Saturday 19 July, as I sat in the departure lounge at KLIA waiting to board my flight to Singapore, my thoughts were on the airline staff. Their morale must surely be at an all-time low after losing 12 of their colleagues when MH370 went missing, and another 15 so soon after when MH17 was shot down in East Ukraine.

As I watched some cabin staff walking past to report for work, I couldn't help wondering what was on the minds of these pilots and the stewardesses. It couldn't have been easy for them to focus on their job knowing that they had lost so many of their dear friends.


As well-trained professionals, the cabin crew has to welcome everyone on board with a warm smile, and see to the comfort and safety of every passenger. Now with the twin disasters of MH17 and MH370 still so fresh in their memory, what lies behind the welcome smiles? Fear? Grief? Numbness?

The grieving families need our support, so do the pilots and cabin staff. So does Malaysia Airlines, our national carrier. It has suffered blow after blow in the past years. Will the recent MH17 disaster be the last nail in the coffin for the ailing airline?

Would Malaysians want to see the demise of our beloved national carrier? Or are we prepared to give our full support to rescue plans to save it?



Saturday, July 19, 2014

IN REMEMBRANCE OF MH17


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

THE RIGHT TO DIE WITH DIGNITY

At our age, many of us would probably have seen death up close in people we know and love. We have seen the acute pain and intense discomfort they have to endure, hour after endless hour, week after torturous week.

The doctors tell us to pray and hope for the best, but prepare for the worse. They assure us they will do everything they can for our loved one. 

But is this what our loved one really wants?  The person we once spent happy times with is now a shadow of himself, emaciated and barely able to recognize us through the haze of pain. There are tubes and drips hanging above his bed. He is hooked to machines that monitor his vital signs. He knows his death is a matter of time - a few months if he is lucky, or a few years if he is not. For him, the end-of-life is slow and agonizing.

Most Canadian doctors oppose physician-assisted
suicide. (Click here for more.)
There is no quality of life for him. He wants the doctors to pull the plug on all the machines that are keeping him in this vegetative state. He doesn't want the doctors to prolong his suffering. He wants to exercise his right to die with dignity. It is his life after all.

But he can't do it himself. He needs the help of his doctors. Will they do it?

More views and videos at www.realdignitytas.com 

Doctors working in hospitals see hundreds of terminally ill patients. They know in their hearts when a patient has little chance of making it through. They know the terrible side effects some of the drugs have on the patients, especially the elderly. They know despite everything they do, it will all likely be in vain.

They have taken the Hippocrates oath to save lives, so their hands are legally and morally tied. They have to continue administering pain-killers and hope their patients respond positively to the new drugs or treatment.

Click here to read more.

For elderly patients with a terminal illness, it is like being sentenced to a living hell. They don't have the strength to fight the illness, nor the will to live anymore. They just want to be left in peace to die. 

But for the family, they want to hold on to their loved one, even when he begs to be released from this endless suffering. To stand by and watch someone dying without doing everything possible to save him is against all that they have been taught - that life is to be valued and preserved whatever the cost, especially the life of a dearly loved parent or child.

The family also knows that prolonging treatment may drain every cent from their life savings, and leave them in dire financial straits. There are families who have taken huge loans or sold their only home to pay for medical and hospitalization fees that could easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. And all for what? 


Euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide is illegal in most countries. Holland is one of a few countries that support euthanasia. No doctor would want to risk losing his license if found guilty of such 'mercy-killing'.

But this may soon change in the UK, if the Assisted Dying Bill is passed by Parliament. The Bill will be debated this week. Will other countries follow suit, and allow for debate on this controversial issue?

Desmond Tutu pleas for 'assisted dying' before historic Lords debate. Click here to read more.

Religious groups view life as sacrosanct. Only God has the power to take away life. However, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa supports a person's right to die with dignity. He views Nelson Mandala's prolonged final days as 'an affront to dignity'. Read his article in The Guardian "Desmond Tutu: a dignified death is our right – I am in favour of assisted dying".

For one doctor's personal views about death and dying, do read his article "Our unrealistic views of death, through a doctor’s eyes" published in the Washington Post. Highly recommended reading.

And finally, for both sides of the controversial issue, do read "Right-to-die: For and against assisted suicide" in the BBC News.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MORE OLDER COUPLES GETTING DIVORCED

Source: The Star
Divorce among older couples was virtually unheard of 50 years ago. Marriages were meant to last a lifetime. Even when death took away one partner, the other would remain faithful till death. Couples in those days stayed together because they took their marriage vows seriously, especially if they married in a place of worship and exchanged vows before God.

In reality and in these days of freer social interaction between the sexes, remaining faithful to one person for the rest of one's life seems to be strictly for the firm believer in fairy tales of the genre '... and they lived happily ever after'.

In South Korea, for example, longer life expectancy, gender equality and better financial support for divorcees have been cited as reasons behind the high rate of silver-haired divorces. The percentage of senior couples who had lived together for 20 years or longer before divorcing jumped from 7.6% in 1991 to 27.7% in 2011. (Click here to read more.)

Sure, there are couples who are blessed to have found their 'soul mate' to share the rest of their lives with. But for many middle-aged couples, they are more likely to find themselves stuck in an unhappy marriage, wondering what happened to that sweetheart they loved and married so many years ago.

Whether it's in the US, UK or South Korea, the divorce rate among older couples is on the rise. (Graphics from The Daily Mail)
It's the same story in Singapore. What is interesting is that the number of older divorcees re-marrying has risen.

This is especially true for women in their 50s and 60s who feel trapped in their marriage. Emboldened by the rising number of silver-haired divorces they read about, they no longer think twice about initiating divorce proceedings. They no longer feel pressured to keep up a pretense of a happy marriage. They no longer fear facing the future alone.

70 years together "in sickness and in health". Unfortunately such loving elderly couples are a rarity these days. (Read the touching full story at The Huffington Post)

Now better educated and able to support themselves financially, many divorcees are enjoying the single life again, or entering into new relationships. And with the children all grown and flown, there is even less reason for them to remain in the role of the long-suffering wife, especially if their husband has been unfaithful or abusive to them.

No longer considered a social stigma, divorce now means liberation for many women, and an opportunity to start afresh on their own. (Image from The Daily Mail)

To be fair, there are husbands who want to leave their wives too. Some women are no angels, and do cheat on their husbands. Others are gold-diggers or title-seekers. Still others are so insecure, they become overly jealous and possessive of their husband, while many are born naggers, constantly harping on their husbands' perceived faults. Such women can make marriage a living hell for their husband.

Many reasons for a divorce. For Dina Eastwood, it was her husband's infidelity, for Al Gore it was his wife's constant jealousy rage. 

Divorces are usually messy, ugly and expensive. The only winners are the lawyers. Regardless, women will proceed to file for divorce rather than endure more years of suffering mental and emotional anguish in an unhappy marriage. Often their decision has the support of their adult children who do not want to see their mother in misery.

(Click here to read a former Miss Malaysia's story of how she felt like a slave and a prisoner in her own home. She is filing for divorce from her husband who is on Forbes list of Malaysia's richest men.)

As long as neither party wants to give their marriage another chance, or if one partner is adamant about splitting, no amount of marriage counselling can help. When a marriage has irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences, the best solution is a divorce. Couples who split amicably can choose to live separately without going through a divorce, as in the case of Kris and Bruce Jenner who have been married 22 years.

Here are some tips for a long-lasting marriage.

1. Appreciate your spouse and show it with little acts of love.
2. Communicate. Share your feelings, your views, your worries,
3. Continue to have sex and intimacy. Have weekly dates.
5. Never criticize or humiliate your spouse in front of others.
6. Have realistic expectations of each other.
7. Embrace your differences.
8. Have your own pursuits as well as shared ones.
9. Learn from each other.
10. Support each other in maintaining an active healthy lifestyle.



Thursday, July 3, 2014

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE - ARE YOU AT RISK?

Alzheimer's Disease is a disease that robs a person of his mind and dignity, and takes him away from his loved ones. He is there physically, yet not there as the person you once knew.

AD afflicts mostly older people. We can take preventive measures like keeping ourselves mentally active and taking certain supplements, but there is no guarantee we won't have AD in our old age. There is as yet no cure for AD. The AD patient can live on for ten years or more, before he fades away into the twilight.

Do you or your elderly parent display any of these warning signs?

In the US, according to the Alzheimer's Association, more people die of AD than of breast cancer and prostate cancer combined (see video below). The Alzheimer's Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) reports that an estimated 50,000 people have the disease. However, most of them are not diagnosed, because relatives think that the symptoms displayed are a normal part of growing old and thus do not seek medical advice for it.

Residents at a dementia facility in Malaysia playing a game of Bingo. Women are at a much higher risk of getting AD than men.

In Singapore, the statistics provided by the Alzheimers Disease Association (ADA)are equally alarming. In 2005, an estimated 22,000 people aged 65 years and above had AD. By 2020, the figure will increase to 53,000 and by 2050 the projected figure will further increase to 187,000.



Fortunately, public awareness of AD is slowly spreading, thanks to books, movies and documentaries about the disease. You might have seen the movie 'The Iron Lady' starring Meryl Streep in the role of Margaret Thatcher. The former PM of Britain was an AD patient, so was former US President Ronald Reagan.


It helps when celebrities come forward to announce that they have AD, and are supporting fund-raising efforts for AD research. And when families share their challenges caring for a loved one with AD, it gives strength to others going through the same journey.

Glen Campbell, now 78, was diagnosed with AD in 2011. Many of us still remember his hit songs of the 60s and 70s like 'Rhinestone Cowboy' and 'Wichita Lineman'. He gave his last concert the same year, together with his children who were his back-up band. In April 2014, he was moved from his family home to an Alzheimer's facility, reports The Rolling Stone magazine.

If you are an AD caregiver, you might want to attend this talk (see below) organized by ADFM, and join the AD care-givers network.


For more previous posts about Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia (and there are plenty!), please type in the key word in the search box on the side column.