Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Who among us have not lost dear friends and relatives to cancer? In recent months, we read of the passing of Steve Jobs, 56, (pancreatic cancer), Robin Gibb, 62, (colorectal cancer) and Donna Summers, 63, (lung and breast cancer). Cancer does not discriminate. It can strike anyone, rich or poor, young or old, and even those who seem healthy and fit.

Chemotherapy and radiation do not guarantee success, and are viewed with dread. Well-meaning friends and strangers have been sending me articles about various types of alternative cancer cures to share on SeniorsAloud. From the much touted Sabah snake grass to the humble papaya, from the anti-cancer Qigong walk to special breathing techniques - how effective are these 'cures'? I don't know, and that's why I usually don't forward these emails to others.

I have also been told that anyone with terminal cancer or advanced cancer will try anything that offers even a remote chance of a cure. After all, they have nothing to lose and their life to regain if the cure works.

If that is the case, I shall share these videos below strictly for information and discussion only. Please do your own research and seek expert opinion before you put your faith in any of the cures featured in the documentaries. Some of the methods advocated not only claim to cure cancer but also prevent the disease in the first place.

The first video is a 3-minute trailer for those who have no time or interest to watch the second video which is a full-length documentary 1 hour 13 minutes long. Or you can go straight to the third video which is a 50-minute interview with Charlotte Gerson, daughter of Dr Max Gerson, founder of the Gerson Institute in Mexico. (Click here to read more about the Gerson Therapy.)

What Charlotte says makes a lot of sense. We are what we eat. If we feed our body with junk food, chemicals and drugs, we end up with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases. Treat our body well with plenty of nutrients, and we will boost our body's natural defense against disease, including cancer.

I am switching back to juicing and watching what I put into my body. Time to clear the dust off my juicer and start juicing again...By the way, a juicer is different from a blender. Find out more about juicing from Jay Kordich, also known as the world's foremost expert on live juicing.

Monday, May 28, 2012


When I first read in The Telegraph two months ago that a group of grannies who called themselves the "Buranovo Grannies" had won the right to represent Russia in Eurovision 2012, my curiosity was stirred. I just had to give these grand old dames a listen. Well, I have to say they are good.

Then I read that BBC had picked Engelbert Humperdinck, 75, to compete in the same contest, now in its 57th year. My first thought was, goodness me, is this a sign that the contest is ageing as well? I remember Cliff Richard coming in second with "Congratulations". That was in 1968, and he was a young 28 then. The only reason for my interest in the song contest was Cliff. He was one of my pop idols at the time.

Well, the results are out. At the contest held last night in Baku, Azerbijan, the grannies emerged second, and Engelbert second-last with his ballad "Love will set you free". The ladies would love it though. The eventual winner was Loreen from Sweden with her song "Euphoria".

After viewing the videos of some of the top finalists, it is pretty obvious that Eurovision is a song contest for the young.

So what on earth prompted BBC to pick Engelbert Humperdinck? At least the grannies were smart enough to add a dance beat to their song entry "Party for Everybody", along the lines of that other party rock hit by LMFAO. European countries seem stuck in the techno-pop genre.

Lesson for ageing crooners - it's best to stick to your age group in song contests. You can't compete against the young, only collaborate with them. That's exactly what Tony Bennett has been doing, and quite successfully too with Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, and others.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


From Los Angeles Times May 23, 2012

Amazing what technology can do. Watch Elvis LIVE in Concert, with his original band members and back-up singers. Gosh, they must be in their 60s and 70s!

The concert has been on a world tour since 2006 and has played in several countries including Japan and Germany. It just concluded another successful tour in the UK. If you are in Memphis this August 16, you can catch a special Elvis 35th anniversary concert in his hometown before it goes on to South America.

Wonder if the concert will make it here to Singapore and Malaysia.

Elvis sings 25 of his most popular songs. Turn up the volume, switch to full screen, sit back and ENJOY the incredible concert experience.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Active Agers Awards Winners 2011 (from left): Sundaram Iyer Seethalakshmi, 72, Tan Tui Gee, 66, William Wan Kok Tang, 64, Rohaini Bte Mohamed, 61, Ho Weng Toh, 91, Geoffrey Kung Kuo Woo, 65, Roland Ng Chew Heng, 68 

Organized by the Council for Third Age, Singapore, the awards are given annually to senior citizens who are inspiring role models of successful ageing. Do watch the video below to learn from each of the winners how you can remain healthy, happy and productive whether you are in your 60s, 70s or 80s. To those who say that turning 60 means going downhill from there, these active agers will tell you it's all about adopting the right attitude and right lifestyle.

Click here to view past years winners.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Article by Chin Ming Lee

One man’s difficult life offers wisdom for a young person starting out on her journey. 

SO, Uncle married already?” I ask with a smile.

Immediately, his cheerful face turns into one of sorrow.

“My wife passed away a couple of years ago.”

“Oh, I am very sorry to hear that.”

“It’s all right. It’s been a while.”

I am taking down Mr Lim’s history (not his real name), a friendly, bubbly 63-year-old, as part of my training as a medical student. It is his third day at the hospital, after being admitted for chest pain and shortness of breath. 

“Do you mind telling me what she ...?”

“Breast cancer. She was only 58. I regret not treating her better when she was still alive.”

Silence. I do not know how to respond to his statement, so I am relieved when he continues talking.

“I used to be a hard-headed man.”

Mr Lim came from a poor family and worked really hard in school. Eventually, he obtained a scholarship and went on to become a lawyer.

“But the early years weren’t easy,” he says. At 30, he married an accountant from a well-to-do family.

“I wasn’t a very good spouse. Come to think of it, I don’t know why she stood by my side all those years.”

(To continue reading, click here.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Reckless spending or genuine aid? Will the rakyat be happy and grateful enough to vote the ruling party back into power?

Life is good for Malaysians. Regardless of your age, ethnicity and profession, if you are a Malaysian, you are in for a windfall. You don't even need to ask, yet you shall receive. This seems to be the campaign slogan of the government, especially in the past few months. Indeed the goodies have been coming at such an unprecedented rate, one wonders if the country has suddenly discovered new sources of unlimited revenue that the rakyat don't know about.

From students to the elderly, from farmers to teachers - almost no one is left out. First there was Bantuan Rakyat Malaysia (BR1M) where households earning less than RM3000 a month were given RM500 in financial aid. Then came the RM100 aid given to every primary and secondary school student and the 1Malaysia Book Voucher of RM200 for every college and university student. The elderly were not left out. They received a RM100 shopping voucher.

Last year a special housing scheme was launched to help young professionals own their first home. Civil servants were promised hefty pay increments and generous pension benefits. Last month a minimum wage of RM800 was introduced, and two days ago, the government promoted 24,000 teachers at a cost of RM934 million.

Smiles all round as these women receive their RM500 BR1M vouchers. (Star April 26, 2012)

Where is all this money coming from? Has the government turned philanthropist using taxpayers money? Our public coffers are not bottomless. The government's favourite golden goose Petronas will not continue to produce golden eggs indefinitely.

Pemandu CEO Idris Jala once warned that the country would be heading towards bankruptcy in 2019 unless it cut subsidies and debt. He caused a furore with his statement, and has since amended it - "The government is not in dire financial straits now, but as in any situation involving finances, this is not to say it cannot be better." (StarBiz: Mar 19, 2012)

Flushed with money to give away. (Star: May 19, 2012)

According to the PM, "We are able to do all these because we manage the country well and can distribute the wealth to the people. We undertake huge projects in Kuala Lumpur so that we can stimulate the economy and, with the annual increase in revenue of five to six per cent, we are able to share with the people. The national revenue for 2010-2011 was reported to have increased by RM26 billion. (From

However, the Deputy Finance Minister recently told Parliament that the federal government's total debt at the end of 2011 stood at RM456.1 billion, 96% of which was domestic debt and 4% external debt.

Whom should we listen to? Who should we believe?

In the end, it's a case of he says, I say, they say. What exactly is the state of our country's financial situation? Are we enjoying robust economic growth under the ETP? Or are all these government handouts less of a financial aid and more of a pre-election sweetener that it can ill afford?

Perhaps it's more a case of you know, I know and we all know the answer.

Related post:



Thursday, May 17, 2012


I make trips down to Singapore on a regular basis. I have family, friends and relatives who reside there. The city nation is a model of cleanliness, efficiency and age-friendliness. But it has become increasingly less so in the past years, especially since the huge influx of foreigners.

My biggest grouse is the overcrowding on the MRT. I used to enjoy leisurely smooth rides on the trains. Such rides are now distant memories. These days commuters are packed like sardines in tin cans, with barely any room to put down your shopping bags. Seats that are reserved for the elderly and the disabled are often taken up by younger commuters, mostly from mainland China. You can tell from the variety of Mandarin that they speak.

Shoulder to shoulder in the MRTs most hours of the day. Photo from Askmelah

If I, a frequent visitor to Singapore, have cause to complain, I can understand how Singaporeans must feel. Indeed, there is a rising tide of resentment against China nationals working and residing in Singapore. Unofficial estimates place their numbers at over a million, or about one in five people in Singapore. Singapore is a popular choice for these expatriates from mainland China because of its geographical proximity, cultural and ethnic similarities. So they come in droves looking for employment, business and education opportunities. Many of the women come over with the hope of marrying a local and settling down in Singapore.

Initially, Singaporeans complained about having to compete with the China nationals for employment. Their complaints have now widened to include almost every facet of life - from rising cost of living, lack of affordable accommodation, competition for places in schools and universities, overcrowding on buses and trains, dirty public toilets and eateries - the list goes on.

Lately, there has been a wave of criticisms levelled at China expatriates and PRs who flaunt their wealth. Many of them earn top dollar, live in high-end condo apartments, shop at up-market retail stores and drive state-of-the-art cars. Such open displays of expensive tastes and millionaire lifestyle do not sit well with the local citizenry who have to keep a frugal eye on their dollars and cents.

Straits Times 17 May

There is no love lost between Singaporeans and these China nationals. The recent horrific accident involving a Ferrari and a taxi could well prove to be the tipping point. It has led to the Chinese Embassy in Singapore issuing a letter to their nationals residing on the island republic to mind their conduct and observe the laws there. This is an unprecedented move, but whether it will have the desired results remains to be seen.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Four generations here. My 86-year old mother, with me (in green), my elder daughter and my four grandchildren

Friday, May 11, 2012


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 .

  • 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

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.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Straits Times May 4

Now anyone can study. Thanks to free online education provided by some of the world's top universities.

In my blog post of October 6, 2011, I wrote that Stanford and Yale would soon be offering free online courses. The latest to join the bandwagon are Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Any paper qualification awarded by these prestigious institutions of higher learning is guaranteed to open doors to brighter career prospects. Share the news with your children.

According to the New York Times report, M.I.T. and Harvard officials said they would use the new online platform not just to build a global community of online learners, but also to research teaching methods and technologies. "Online education is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better," said Lawrence S. Bacow, a member of the Harvard Corporation.

What's the catch? Students who complete the online course will be given a certificate, but no credit. I doubt this will deter people from signing up. Stanford's free online course on Artificial Intelligence attracted more than 200,000 students last year.

For older adults and retirees keen on going back to school again, this news is heaven-sent. With an empty nest at home and time on their hands, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to acquire new knowledge and prevent the brain from getting rusty.

Dr Allan Stewart
If you think that your age might pose an obstacle to learning, look at Dr Allan Stewart a former dental surgeon from Australia. Last Friday he obtained his fourth degree - Master in Clinical Science (Complementary Medicine) at the ripe old age of 97!!! He currently holds the world record for being the oldest graduate.

Gac Filipaj
If you think that you lack the focus and mental fortitude to last the distance, look at Gac Filipaj, 52, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia. It took him almost 20 years to get his first degree. He had to go for classes at Columbia University in the morning, toil as a custodian (janitor) at the university from 2.30pm to 11.30pm before going home to study. When he first came to the US, he spoke no English and had to attend English proficiency classes for several years. Now he holds a degree in classics - with honors. He plans to do his Masters next.

I am certainly inspired and motivated by Dr Allan Stewart and Gac Filipaj.  I have always wanted to do a Masters in Gerontology. Can anyone recommend a good university where I can do the course? Let me know.

Postscript: For more free online courses, do check out Coursera. Some friends of mine have already signed up. Pity they don't have any free courses for Gerontology. There will likely be more universities offering FOC courses online in the coming days. Thanks to the internet, opportunities for learning are opening up worldwide, and many free too. What excuses do we have not to embrace lifelong learning?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Screen shot from The Sunday Times May 6, 2012

You can be in a room full of people, and still feel lonely. The same can be said of the elderly living in a house full of family members. When your adult children have little time for you, and your grandchildren prefer to spend time with their friends or their electronic gadgets, you are left pretty much with yourself for company, more so if your spouse is no longer around.

This sense of loneliness can engulf the elderly person, and precipitate into bouts of depression. Over time, he is likely to develop thoughts of ending his life. After all, why prolong this life of misery where no one cares about your existence.

This is confirmed by Senior Consultant Psychiatrist from the National University Health System (NUHS), Professor Kua Ee Heok. He says, "The big concern is that a rise in elderly depression could cause suicide rates to spike too." Previous studies have shown that those who live alone tend to be more depressed than those who do not. But a new study conducted by NUHS shows that those living with others may also experience loneliness and depression.

About 25% of the 412 elderly respondents in the study showed signs of depression. All were aged 75 and above, and living at home with their family.

The good news is that, unlike dementia, depression can be prevented and treated more effectively. Family members should not dismiss signs of depression in their elderly parents as part and parcel of ageing.

What are these signs of depression? How would you know if you are at risk? You can take this simple test at the link below.

How can we prevent depression?

Studies have shown that those who remain employed longer or who volunteer to help with community service organizations enjoy better mental health. "Talk to people, stay engaged," advises Prof Kua.

The choice is ours to make. No point wallowing in self-pity. If our family members are too busy to take us out or spend time at home with us, it's up to us to look up our own friends and organize activities. We have to be pro-active. If we are house-bound, we can invite our friends over. There is always a solution if we care enough to seek it.

Join the Befrienders. Not only will you be bringing some cheer to the elderly who are lonely, but also helping yourself by keeping depression at bay. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


It's Sunday morning as I am writing this. If you are in Singapore and have no plans for today, you might want to drop by at Suntec Convention Centre and check out "LIFE MATTERS" on Level 4. It's an event for active agers. I was curious enough to drop by yesterday.

Here are some photos I took to help you decide if it's worth spending a couple of hours there. Admission is free, and there are lots of free gifts and special offers if you bring along the coupons published in the Friday papers.

Some of the highlights include talks by medical professionals, estate planners and cooking demonstrations by master chefs.
Long queues for free health checks by practitioners of traditional Chinese health therapies..
A wide range of Chinese herbs to choose from for healing common ailments.
There's also a "Shoot for Life" photography competition...
as well as a "Fill this space" art competition for the best coffin design aka how you would want your casket decorated!
On my wish wish - a motorized bicycle. More models of motorized vehicles for the elderly at this e-bike booth. To view the complete range, go to
One of the finalists in the "Golden Voices" singing competition. Some of these old-timers can really sing! There's also a beauty pageant, K-pop dances and an open line dance session.
Nirvana Memorial Garden presented a documentary promoting their columbarium services. I must say it was an 8-minute visual experience that was both informative and impressive. I hesitated to ask about the cost - probably beyond the means of the average family. For more info, go to

After visiting "Life Matters", you can opt for a 180-degree change in mood at the adjacent venue where there's an electronic expo and a food fair. A 3-in-1 Sunday outing at Suntec Convention Centre. Well worth the three hours I spent there yesterday.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


We have all been to farewell parties where we bade a fond goodbye to a colleague who is leaving for better job prospects elsewhere, or to a family member or a friend about to emigrate to greener pastures overseas. We experience mixed emotions - we celebrate the occasion but at the same time feel a sense of loss not knowing when we will see that person again.

The same mixed emotions were probably felt at Joyce Ho's farewell party yesterday. I had seen the announcement in the Straits Times while browsing the papers a day earlier.

My first thought was "That's the way we should say goodbye when our time is up. If we have lived a good life, we should celebrate reaching the finishing line with oomph, not gloom.

I do not know Joyce or her family but she is certainly an inspiration to those among us who may be battling terminal illness. Death is not a taboo subject, and there is no need to fear death. We should count our many blessings and welcome the eternal rest that awaits us.

And to our dearly loved ones, when we bid our final adieu, please celebrate our crossing over to the other side with our favorite music, our favorite things and our favorite people.

And know that, just like Joyce, we too will rest in peace.

(All screen-shots from Straits Times.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Screen-shot from Sunday Times 22 April

Who would have believed that old friends Thng Wan Kow, 70, Tan Kok Sing, 87, and Teo Kee Huat, 68, have made it to Oprah's blog. "Oprah who?" they would probably ask, wondering what all the fuss was about.

While most of us are still struggling to get out of bed in the morning, the trio are already on the basketball court at Block 95, Henderson Road, shooting three-pointers. They have been doing this every day for the past few years.

Thng and Tan had both suffered a stroke some years ago, while Teo had his colon and rectum removed in 2008 because of cancer. Theirs is a story of courage in the face of adversity. They never once gave up on themselves. The Singapore Sports Council has featured the three men in a video to spread the message of the importance of keeping fit and active.

Writes Oprah in her blog, "We love these guys - we're calling them the Singapore Globeshufflers - for reminding us that it's not about how many miles you can travel throughout your life, but how many three-point shots you can sink along the way."

Tan has the last word, "I have met some (colorectal cancer) patients who still cannot get over their ordeal. I tell them that it is in the past and they have to move on, because if you don't do anything, then you are really just waiting for death. The body is old, but the heart is not."

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Yesterday's Mail Mail cover page (30 April)

Many of us will remember MM in its heydays. It was the only English afternoon paper then, and arguably the best local paper to refer to for sports coverage and classifieds. Then as the years passed, its readership slowly declined as it lost its competitive edge to other English dailies.

There were several attempts to get MM back to its glory days under various editors-in-chief, but it never quite gained a foothold in the battle for readership against other English dailies, namely, the Star, the New Straits Times and the Sun.

Malay Mail's recent cover pages.

However, in recent months, the Malay Mail has undergone more than just cosmetic changes. It has revamped how news is reported. There is a noticeable attempt to be fair in its news coverage particularly on political and national issues. There is also more emphasis on news that truly matters, and less of social gossip and celebrity news.

A case in point is yesterday's MM front page reportage of Bersih's Duduk Bantah on 28 April. It beat out those of its rival papers in terms of objectivity. At least that's my personal view.

The man behind the much improved MM is Terence Fernandez, former senior investigative reporter with The Sun, and now managing editor at MM. I would always make an attempt to get a copy of the Sun on the days his column would be featured. Since he took over the reins, the MM has drastically revamped its front page. It now carries attention-grabbing headlines and cover photos.

Recently, the MM launched 'Spark the Debate' with a debate between Petaling Jaya Utara MP and DAP's Publicity Chief Tony Pua and BN’s Kota Belud MP Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan. The two men spoke on "Bayan Mutiara: Achievement or Bad Precedent? Its Impact on Affordable Urban Housing".

But it was the second debate that drew enormous public interest resulting in a standing room only audience. That was the debate between Bersih 3.0 co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin on the topic "Electoral Reform: Is enough being done?"

Let's hope the future continues to be bright for the Malay Mail. It would be a pity to see this 116-year old paper weather so many storms, only to sink into oblivion in the face of the stiff competition from online news media.