Friday, December 26, 2014

A SENIOR TRAVELLING ALONE

I have always enjoyed travelling. Who doesn't?However, not many seniors, especially the ladies, like to travel alone. My lady friends say they feel lonely, scared and lost without a travelling companion. For them, it's best to travel with friends or family, or go on a package tour.

The ideal travelling partner is someone who shares the same interests, is easy-going and adaptable. Otherwise, you are better off travelling alone.

My first ever trip abroad was to India and Nepal in 1975, and I went alone. I have made several trips since then on my own. As the years pass, it gets increasingly harder to find a travelling buddy who can rough it out with you if need to. As seniors, we have become very set in our ways, and used to being in our comfort zone.

Regardless of how many times we have visited a place over the years, there is always something new to learn from each visit. The same applies to my recent trip to Melbourne. Although it was my fourth visit to Australia, and my second to Melbourne, I gained fresh insights about the city and the people from my week-long stay there.

Here are some tips for seniors travelling on their own for the first time:


1. Accommodation 
Choose a hotel that is centrally located. It may be slightly more expensive, but you save on transport as everything you need or plan to do is within walking distance. My daughters did a great job arranging my accommodation and flight as their Christmas gift for me. I was fortunate to stay at the Sebel in Flinders Lane, right in the heart of the city's business district. The hotel was a mere five minutes walk round the corner from Flinders Street station. Each morning after breakfast, I would set off to explore the city on foot or by shuttle. After lunch I would double back to the hotel to freshen up, nip out again and only return to the hotel after dinner.

My work station with my laptop all set up to get connected online
2. Internet Connection
You want to be in touch with your family, so ask the hotel about internet availability and charges, if any. The Sebel, for example, provides guests with complimentary internet access for only 30 minutes each day, and only in the hotel lobby. Anything more you will be charged accordingly. If you are using a smart phone, it is advisable to get an international sim card easily available at the airport or at any convenience store. Remember to turn off data roaming when you are travelling. You don't want to be greeted with a hefty bill from your local telco when you get home from your trip. One more thing - don't forget to pack an adaptor for your electronic devices.

3. Travel light
Ladies, forget about packing your Sunday best. Leave your jewelry and perfume at home. Bring only essential make-up and toiletries. Forget about matching clothes, shoes or handbags with the right colours or occasion, unless you are prepared to pay extra baggage charges at the airport. I had only a small cabin-size trolley bag and my pc bag with me for the one-week trip. I wore Fitflops throughout the entire trip, and packed only 4-5 changes of clothes, all casual.


4. Maps and brochures
Get a good detailed map of the city and also brochures/pamphlets of the places you want to visit. You can pick these up for free at the city's Visitor Centre, or at your hotel front desk. Plan your itinerary the night before, and ask for more information and advice from the staff at the front desk. You will be wasting time, energy and money if you wander around clueless. Don't be shy to ask for directions. Australians are among the friendliest and most helpful people that I know.


5. Public Transport
Also get a copy of the city's public transport (PT) network and schedules. They are available at the stations. The best and cheapest way to see the city sights is by PT, so it makes sense to get a stored-value travel card for A$6, and top up whenever the need arises. Most cities have a free shuttle service that takes you on a tour of the main attractions. I found the 40-minute ride most helpful as it gave me a good idea of places that I would like to check out, and those that I could strike off from my To-Visit list. You can choose to get on or off at designated stops along the route.


6. Events and Attractions 
Scan the events page of the local papers and find out what's going on in the city that appeals to you, for example, what's playing at the theatres, cinemas, and Town Hall. Thanks to my cousin Henry, I had a ticket for a premium seat to watch the award-winning musical "Once" at the Princess Theatre. Other popular musicals that were playing during my stay in Melbourne were "Strictly Dancing", "Les Miserables" and "Grease". I also caught the movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings" at the Hoyts cinema at Melbourne Central. I wasn't going to wait till I was back home to find that the censorship board has banned the movie. One never knows.

Depending on your budget and what you are looking for, you can shop at the malls or at the markets. But know that you may be able to get the same items, especially souvenirs, for much less at the markets, e.g. Queen Victoria Market.

7. Shopping
If shopping is on your priority list, again check the local papers for sales. Find out where the popular department stores or malls are, and how to get there. If you are shopping for souvenirs or gifts to bring home, control the temptation to buy whatever grabs your fancy on Day 1 of your trip. Likewise, don't buy at the first shop you visit. Compare prices and goods. You don't want to kick yourself later for paying more for something that you could have gotten at a lower price at another shop. This also applies to last minute shopping at the airport before your flight home. Merchandise sold at the departure lounge can often be cheaper than that sold at the main airport hall.


8. Meals
Eating out is not cheap. More so when the currency exchange is not in your favour. In Melbourne, it makes sense to buy fresh fruits, nuts and cooked food at the markets. If you don't mind an occasional meal of fast food like pizza, burgers and sandwiches, there are plenty of such food joints in the city. Another option are the food courts where you can get variety. Just don't convert the price, if you want to enjoy your meal. I paid A$12.80 (RM37) for a plate of char kwey teow (fried noodles) and A$5.80 (RM16.70) for a bowl of soup with five pieces of wantan. It would have cost me only RM5 and RM4 respectively in Malaysia. By the way, bring a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Keep hydrated as you walk the streets of the city in the summer heat.


9. Tourist Attractions
To stretch your tourist dollar, visit places where admission is free. You will be surprised how many there are. For Melbourne, I highly recommend St Paul's Cathedral, Victoria State Library, Immigration Museum and the public parks. The hours pass by quickly when you are having a good time. I spent an entire morning at the Immigration Museum and an entire afternoon at the Victoria State Library. That's one whole day at just two places.

From city ambassadors and firemen to police officers and passers-by, Australians are happy to offer assistance to visitors.

10. Ask for assistance
What happens if you are lost or unable to locate a place you plan to visit? Just ask. Most people are friendly and helpful to visitors. They will give you directions, tell you which train to take or recommend the best places to get what you want. I have no qualms about approaching a stranger to ask where the toilets are! Australians have a wonderful quirky sense of humour which I love. Just look at these T-shirts at Robbie's stall in Queen Victoria Market.


One final word. The best way to explore a city is on foot. So make sure you pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, and a shawl or sweater in case it's a bit chilly. Armed with a good map and a bottle of water, you should be ready to set off early each morning for a day of exploration and adventure.

Snapshots of Melbourne:







Travelling alone does not necessarily mean you have only yourself for company. If you take the initiative to say 'Hi', you will be surprised how quickly you can start a conversation with other hotel guests, fellow tourists, or the locals. You can also look up old friends and family members who have settled in that country. In that sense, you will not feel lonely, unless you really prefer to be left alone.


On Day 4, I took the train to Glen Waverley to visit my brother John and his wife Phyllis. It was a pleasant 40-minute ride. We had dinner at the Silky Apple Chinese restaurant with the rest of my relatives, including my niece and nephews. By coincidence, my sister Felicia and her husband Michael had flown in from Perth to attend their daughter's convocation that weekend. What a lovely family reunion it turned out to be, thanks to LeShan who hosted it.

As you can see, one is never really lonely, even when travelling alone.

A big THANK YOU to John, Phyllis, Henry, Belle, and Moon for making sure that I had a memorable holiday in Melbourne.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

SEASON'S GREETINGS FROM SENIORSALOUD


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WHEN CARING TAKES A TOLL ON THE HEART...

Feature article in The Straits Times 7 Dec, 2014. Click here to read the original and other related stories.

It is 8am on a Tuesday when I report for work at the Touch Seniors Activity Centre in Geylang Bahru, dressed in polo shirt, jeans and sneakers.

The 16-year-old centre is at the void deck of Block 61, one of two blocks of one-room rental flats in the ageing Housing Board neighbourhood.

About the size of two five-room HDB flats, it has a common area lined with potted plants and rows of tables and chairs, where eight women and three men, all Chinese, are having breakfast of kaya-on-bread and Milo. In one corner, an Indian man is reading The Straits Times.

Three women are in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Everyone is dressed casually, two of the women in their pyjamas.

I am here as an untrained "programme assistant" to help the centre's six staff members run daily programmes for the elderly.

"I hope you can speak dialect," says centre director Julia Lee, 52, taking me to her tiny office. "Speaking dialect is a job requirement." The centre serves 740 people who are over 60 years old. Four in five are Chinese who speak either Hokkien or Cantonese, and the rest are Malays and Indians.

About half live in the rental blocks. One in five lives alone, and half live with their spouses and children. One in 10 is on public assistance. "Most are not working, either living off their savings or their CPF (Central Provident Fund) and they get financial help from the Government and VWOs," says Julia, referring to voluntary welfare organisations.

She introduces me to the staff - Betty Lee, Richard Chia, Yong Yin Hoong, James Lee and Carol Oh - all in their 50s, except for Carol, who is 32. Julia hands me a dark red polo shirt like the one all the staff are dressed in. "Wear this," she says. "You are one of us."


The dialect test

My first assignment was to man the general inquiries counter. And I realised quickly I was crippled because I speak only English and Mandarin, and just a smattering of Hokkien.

A Hokkien-speaking woman in her 60s came along, asking how to apply for the Community Health Assist Scheme card which will get her higher subsidies when she sees the doctor. I explained, then stumbled over the Hokkien word for "polyclinic".

From about 4m away, a woman having breakfast called out loudly, without even looking our way: "Peh soon chu!"

My client chuckled and said: "Her ears tokong (very good)!" I learnt then that I need not worry, because help was always near.

Almost all the elderly folk at the centre were tucking into the free breakfast. Most were chatty and cheerful, but there were some loners and quiet ones too.

Two men sharing the same copy of The Straits Times began bickering. "You did not put it back properly, every morning like this!" snapped one, stomping away.

Although this is an activity centre, dishing out meals and running exercise and games sessions take up only a fraction of the staff's time. What needs most time and effort are home visits. There are about 50 frail elderly persons living alone in the area, and the staff visit every one at least once in two days, if not daily.

My colleague Betty Lee, 56, took me under her wing as she set off after lunch on her rounds.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development requires such centres to visit frail seniors weekly. "But one week is too long," said Betty. "If something happens, we don't want to find out only from the smell." I knew she meant old people dying alone - since 2007, more than 50 have been found dead alone in their homes.

We headed first to the ninth floor at nearby Block 62. Betty knocked on the door of 77-year-old Madam Chew Pui Siew's flat but there was no answer. She knocked again and again, calling out for Madam Chew. "She was discharged yesterday after being hospitalised for a fall, so I want to see how she is doing," she said.

The next thing I knew, Betty was down on her hands and knees, squinting as she peered into the flat through the tiny gap below the front door. "Previously we could climb and peep through the louvres on top but now they are covered up," she said, miffed at not being able to make out anything indoors, disregarding the film of grey dust her hair had picked up.

"Never mind, we'll come back later," she told me. "We must see how she is doing today."

Over the next two hours, we visited four elderly people, spending about 30 minutes with each.

There was Madam Koh Ai Teng, an 84-year-old widow with failing eyesight who lives alone in an eighth-floor flat. She has four sons and two daughters, but prefers to live alone. She gets about with a walking stick and is usually at the centre every morning.

"She is an independent woman," said Betty. "If we don't see her in the morning, it means something is wrong."

Betty glanced quickly into a wooden food cabinet to see if there was enough food, checking the expiry date of two cans of sardines. "Why didn't you finish your meal?" she asked, pointing to a half-eaten styrofoam pack of rice, chye sim and tofu.

"I am keeping the other half for dinner," replied Madam Koh.

We then walked to the next block to visit Madam Neo Gek Hui. "She can be quite grumpy," Betty warned me as she knocked on the door.

The 87-year-old woman opened the door and let us into a dark, dingy flat with shuttered windows that reeked so terribly of urine and stale cigarette smoke that I almost gagged, but Betty appeared oblivious to the odour.

The widow has a daughter who is working as a professional, but they are not on good terms.

A heavy smoker, the old woman wasted no time in asking if I would help her buy cigarettes. She lost interest in chatting when she gathered we would not be supplying cigarettes. "I'm going to rest now," she said, hinting that we could go.

Outside, Betty said: "She's okay, except for her smoking, but at 87, what to do? Her flat is still neat, but she doesn't open her windows, that's the problem. Most of them are like that, they are afraid of dust."

A pile of soiled clothes

We went next to the 11th floor to see retired taxi driver Seah Keng Oon, a 73-year-old who had just undergone brain surgery. The divorcee has two sons and a daughter but lives on his own on $450 monthly public assistance.

His one-room flat had a wooden sofa, some tables and chairs and a bed so untidy I began straightening out the bedsheet. That was when I noticed the bed bugs, dead and alive, as big as grains of barley. Two landed on my arm.

Betty said softly: "Do not sit on the wooden or rattan chairs because the bugs hide there, and you need to shake yourself afterwards and make sure you don't take the bugs home." My arm seemed to itch right away.

On the eighth floor, we dropped in on Mr Boey Seng Tee, 71, who has early-stage Parkinson's disease. The unmarried retired cleaner lives alone on public assistance. His flat was an awful mess, with clothes piled nearly a metre high on the floor. His bed was untidy, with the pillow and some towels thrown over the crumpled bedsheet which was stained badly and stank of urine. Betty shook her head and said: "We just gave him a new bed and bedsheets last month."

We spent more than 30 minutes sorting out his soiled clothes, separating urine-stained underwear and singlets from clean clothes. He protested when we put a pair of trousers into the pile of dirty clothes, saying: "Still can wear, only wore for one week."

We threw the soiled bedsheet and pillowcase down the rubbish chute, swept the floor and picked up dead bed bugs. Mr Boey nodded off while we worked.

"It is a matter of time before he will have to be admitted to a nursing home," said Betty. "We'll just have to try and keep him here for as long as we can."

We headed back to the centre and washed our hands thoroughly with Dettol soap, but Betty wasn't done yet with our home visits.

We returned to our first stop, to check on Madam Chew Pui Siew. This time, her 55-year-old odd-job labourer son opened the door.

Seated in her wheelchair, Madam Chew told Betty: "I heard you knocking just now, but I was too weak to get up from the bed."

Betty spent 30 minutes talking to the son, explaining that some things needed to change now that his mother would be in a wheelchair for some time. Among other things, they would need a water heater, ramps from the kitchen to the toilet and adult diapers.

Betty told me: "It is very stressful for the son to look after the mother, so we'll try to visit her for 30 minutes every other day and give him a break."

My routine over the rest of the week was the same - manning the counter and helping with group activities at the centre, before visiting homes in the afternoons.

Memorable among the old folk I met was Mr Lee Ah Tong, a 67-year-old retired odd-job labourer who has no family and lives alone in his 11th-floor flat.

I visited him with another colleague, Richard, the only one Mr Lee allows into his home, which is chock-full of countless items he hoards.

"You'll have to buy something from him," whispered Richard as he knocked on the door. "Otherwise he won't let you in."

Inside, we had to make our way along a 30cm-wide path between piles of everything from bicycles to television sets, fans, lights, hi-fi sets, countless plastic bags and boxes, and the hammock Mr Lee sleeps in. I asked if he was a karung guni man and he seemed to take offence. "My things all good quality," he retorted.

I bought two torchlights for $8 and that improved his mood. He even agreed to pose for photos, putting on a shirt and cap. "You will help me to advertise?" he asked.

Richard said as we left: "He is a bit eccentric, but harmless. My only worry is that he smokes in the flat and things might catch fire. And he drinks too."

By Day Four, I realised that most of the elderly at the centre are helpless, lonely and illiterate, and need help even for simple chores. The staff help to fill in forms, read letters, change light bulbs.

That week, I ran a bingo session, conducted a quiz flashing photos of landmarks to test their memory, joined in a dance class and morning exercises, visited and cleaned homes, checked blood pressure, pushed wheelchairs, and delivered food and medicine.

Programme assistant? I was a dialect-speaking jack-of-all-trades, just like everyone else.

Seniors activity centre? It was more a seniors services centre.

The brown box

I did not find the job tiring, but it became emotionally draining.

The frail elderly need a lot of care and attention. But those who are well want to be occupied and to be outside their flats with other people instead of being cooped up at home staring at the walls.

Julia said the staff have to draw the line and learn when not to get too close. "We don't give handphone numbers," she said. "There is an emergency system installed by the HDB which they can call if they need help, even at night."

But this is a job that demands a lot, especially as the seniors grow older, sick, more frail, and die.

One day I spotted a large brown box tucked away in a corner labelled "Last Office". It contained three sets of clothes: a white dress and two long-sleeved shirts.

Three people had left their clothes with the centre for safekeeping until their funerals.

"Their photographs are in our computers," said Julia. "We do this by special request. It is the last service we provide."

Death comes calling about twice a month - more than 90 have died since 2010. One in four is 80 or older.

On my last day, Betty spotted me slumped in a chair after we visited four homes and guessed it might all be getting to me.

"Let's take a break by getting out of the centre," she said. "We'll take Madam Koh to see her son."

She meant Madam Koh Ai Teng, the widow I had met on Day One.

Her 63-year-old son had been living in a nursing home near Moulmein for the past three years because of his diabetes and poor health. Madam Koh had not visited him all this time, but recently began saying she wanted to see him.

Taking seniors on such visits is not the job of the centre, but Betty, who is married with two grown-up children and a mother about Madam Koh's age, said: "I try to do these extra things where I can."

Madam Koh looked fresh and was dressed in a brown blouse and dark pants for her outing. I could smell the pleasant scent of talcum powder as she walked to my car, holding a paper bag tightly. I drove her and Betty to the nursing home,

We found her son lying in bed and as soon as Madam Koh saw him, she took out a packet of Khong Guan biscuits from her bag.

Her greeting to him was in Hokkien: "Are you hungry?"

He said: "Ma! You are here. How did you come?"

The old woman ran her fingers tenderly down his face, arms and legs, all the way to his feet.

"The skin is so rough," she said with a sigh.

His eyes welled up.

Hers too.

I stopped taking photos to leave mother and son alone and they spent over an hour speaking softly.

When it was time for us to leave, the son wheeled himself to the door, stood up unsteadily from his wheelchair, held on to the railings at the corridor and said: "Look Ma, I can stand, don't worry."

Madam Koh was silent on the ride back. But as soon as we reached the void deck of her block, she clasped my hand and Betty's for almost a minute.

"So sorry to have inconvenienced you," she said in Hokkien, and I understood every word. "Thank you for taking me to see my son."

I replied in Hokkien: "No need, no need."

And I looked away quickly, afraid they would see the tears in my eyes.

(The article above is posted here to raise awareness of the plight of the elderly not only in Singapore but also elsewhere. It is also a call for more volunteers to provide care for the elderly.)


If you would like to find out how you can help, go to http://www.touch.org.sg/touch_seniors_activity_centre

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A NEW HOME FOR MOM

Source: ADFM 'Sharing' magazine (Limited Edition)
Who among us would not want to live a long and happy life? We all want to enjoy our golden years in good health, and that means being able to take care of ourselves and remaining physically active and mentally sound.

But life does not always give us what we want. What happens when old age brings with it a host of health problems? What do we do if our elderly parents are in this situation and we are unable to look after them for one reason or another? Or for that matter, where do we go when we ourselves reach old age, and we too need to be looked after?

This is where daycare centres for the elderly, residential homecare centres and nursing homes come in. They play a vital role in providing care for the elderly who require assistance with activities of daily living.

Mom (photo taken on 26/11/14)
Unfortunately, the number of care centres and homes for the elderly in the country has not risen in tandem with the rapid rise in the ageing population. According to the Department of Statistics, Malaysia, life expectancy has increased from 63.1 to 71.9 years for male, and 66 to 76.6 for female, from 1966 to 2010. It is projected to increase further in 2040 when men can expect to live to 78 years and women to 83.

Between 2010 and 2040, the number of Malaysians aged 65 years and above are projected to triple. Based on these figures, Malaysia will become an ageing country as early as 2021 when the population aged 65 years and over reach 7.1 per cent.

These figures are a cause for concern. Will the number of aged care facilities be able to cope with the surge in the elderly population?

Socio-economic changes have resulted in smaller family size. While in the past there was always someone at home to look after the elderly parents, today they are often left alone at home to fend for themselves when their adult children are at work. What if they fall and hurt themselves? What if they suffer a stroke or a heart attack? Who is there to send them to the hospital or call for an ambulance?


That was exactly what happened one Sunday evening in March 2011. I came home to find my mother sprawled on the floor unable to move. I had left her on her own to attend a workshop in another state. I dread to think of what would have happened if I had returned a day later. It was a traumatic experience for me.

At the hospital x-rays confirmed that my mom had sustained a hip fracture and would require surgery. During her 10-day post-surgery recovery in the hospital, the doctor informed me that my mom was showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). He advised me to get her examined by a geriatrician at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). All along I had assumed that her memory lapses and occasional odd behavior were due to old age. My mom was 85 at the time.

The six months of post-surgery rehabilitation was a most trying period for both of us. It was my first experience of being the sole caregiver and it left me physically exhausted and emotionally drained. My mom’s failing memory plus her limited mobility meant that she needed constant supervision which I was unable to provide for the long term.

Mom at the ADFM Day Care Center No. 6, Lorong 11/8E, Section 11, PJ. Tel: +603-7956 2008 / 7958 3008

I was fortunate to discover the ADFM daycare centre in PJ, near UMMC. I had read an announcement in the papers of a talk to be held at the centre. I visited the centre and liked what I saw. The facility was clean and elder-friendly. There were daily activities to engage the clients physically and mentally. The staff were trained and qualified. My mom would be in the company of people her age group, and she wouldn’t have only me for company.

The centre could do with a name change, but the facilities and care provided are excellent.

My mom was at the PJ daycare centre for three months. When the Dementia Homecare Centre at Telok Panglima Garang started accepting admissions in September 2011, my mom moved in there. She has since settled in comfortably and enjoys the peace and quiet of the place.

It has been three years now and my mom regards the centre as her home. She is well taken care of by the staff. I visit her regularly to make sure she has everything she needs. We enjoy chatting and sharing stories. I am also aware that one day she may no longer recognize me. As her condition advances, she will require more nursing care. I am confident ADFM will be able to provide the care and attention she needs. I know I can’t.

The proposed ADFM training and care centre to be built in PJ Old Town. (Photo: The Star)

The traditional family unit has changed with the times. These changes necessitate a change in our mindset too. Does placing an elderly parent in a home reflect a lack of filial piety? I have thought long and deep about this. And the answer is No. Not if they need professional nursing care and we are unable to provide that at home. Not if they have dementia and must be supervised 24/7. Not if it is no longer safe for them to live alone.

There are so many things to worry about when an elderly parent with dementia is left alone at home. Did mom remember to take her medication? What if she took more than prescribed and overdosed? What if she fell and lost consciousness? What if she forgot to turn off the gas stove, or lock the front door? What if she wandered off and couldn’t remember her way back?

It is our responsibility to make sure that we choose the right home where our parents get the best possible care. I am happy to say ADFM’s Dementia Homecare is the home sweet home for my mom. She is happy there and no longer remembers where her own home is.

Find out more about Alzheimer's and ADFM at http://www.adfm.org.my/Home/foundation 

Ultimately, it is an individual decision. Each family has to decide what to do when the time comes for mom and dad to be looked after 24/7. But just remember the dire consequences should anything disastrous happen to an elderly parent who lives alone.

One day it will be our adult children to worry about us. What will their decision be then? How will we react to their decision? Only time will tell.


The above article (text only) first appeared in ADFM's special limited edition of "Sharing" magazine that was published in conjunction with the "Forget-Me-Not" concert held on 5 Dec 2014 in honour of the Sultan of Selangor's 69th birthday, and also to raise funds for the building of ADFM's new training and care centre in PJ.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IF FACEBOOK PRIVACY IS YOUR CONCERN, READ ON...

There was a time when the only way we could communicate with our children studying abroad was via post (painfully slow) or by phone (painfully expensive). Then came the advent of social media applications like Skype(Aug 2003)  and Facebook (Feb 2004). Now getting connected online has become so much easier and practically free. And with more people using smart phones, we can get connected without the need to have a pc or a tablet. WhatsApp (June 2009) and Facetime (June 2010) lead the field in applications for smart phone users to get connected. Many of these applications can be downloaded for free or for a token fee.

These figures are for the US, but are indicative of a worldwide trend of more seniors going online, with Facebook as their favorite social media platform. Click here for more data from Pew Research Centre.

Words like Skype and WhatsApp have become part of our vocabulary as in "I'll skype you later when I get back", or "Can you whatsapp me the photos?" Seniors are going online in droves to enjoy the convenience of getting in touch with family and friends instantly, and sharing photos, videos and news. 

While all this is good news for seniors, it is important for us to know how to protect our privacy, especially on Facebook, which is by far the favourite social media application with seniors.  

Of particular concern to us is who can view our personal data, our photos and our postings. Also, what does Facebook do with all the info it collects from us? How can we use the settings to control who sees what on our FB page? These are some of the many questions and concerns that FB users have, and also the reason why non-FB users are hesitant to sign up for an account.

While Facebook has its privacy policy spelt out to all account holders, not everyone bothers or has the patience to read pages of fine print written in legalese or technical lingo.

So it is welcome news that FB has simplified the privacy policy in language that we can understand. It is easier now to learn how to use settings to control access to our FB page content and to protect our personal data. 

That's right - WE are in charge. Click here to go to the page.

Questions that we have been asking and seeking answers to. Click here to go to the page.

And if you want an answer quickly, Facebook has its own FB page where Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan will provide the infomation you are seeking.

Click here to go to the page
                                                                                                  
One more thing - we must be careful who we accept as friends on Facebook. We are not in the running for Who has the highest number of FB friends. It's perfectly ok to ignore a friend request, more so if it's from a total stranger who has no mutal friends with us.

BETTER BE CAUTIOUS WHEN YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA THAN BE SORRY LATER