Thursday, August 30, 2012


No, I wasn't there on that historic day. I was in Batu Pahat, and only nine years old at the time. 

But Uncle Lee was there. Read his personal account of what he saw, heard and experienced on 30 and 31 August 1957. He has done all the research, digging up old photos and songs that the older ones among us still remember to this day. Read what it was like for this mischievous schoolboy at the time to participate in the newly-independent country's first mass drill at Stadium Merdeka. 

You will thoroughly enjoy reading Uncle Lee's account. He writes in that inimitable style of his that is sure to put a smile, heck, even a belly LOL, on your face as he recounts his student pranks. It's not surprising Uncle Lee has a huge fan following that includes yours truly. Even though he has long settled in Canada, he still recalls with fondness memories of the old days in his country of birth, and is happy to share them with us. And not just nostalgia, he also shares pictures of beautiful women - balm for ageing eyes!

Click on the link to visit Uncle Lee's blog and read more of his writings at Moonlight Night Starry Skies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


If she were here with us today, my beautiful angel of a sister, Molly, would be celebrating her 62nd birthday.

My grandson, Max, who turns 12 today, shares the same birthday as his favourite aunt Molly. 
(Above) Max turned 1, and Aunt Molly turned 51 on 28 August 2001.

Each year as the family celebrates this special day, we remember with much fondness my sister Molly who left us suddenly on the morning of 12 June 2006. We miss her dearly. More than words can ever say.

At Max's pool party. Reiya, 6, is happy to help her big brother Max blow out the 12 candles on his birthday cake.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Front page of the Straits Times today.

Madam Chang Ka Fong, Chung Win Kee, and Chen Woo Teck were singled out for mention as role models of active ageing in PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech last night. Who are these inspiring elderly Singaporeans?

Believe it or not, at 87, Madam Chang can still shoot 50 hoops as part of her daily exercise regime. She keeps fit by exercising regularly and following a sensible diet for her age. Her breakfast is porridge and Horlicks. She also guards against over-eating.

Mr Chung, 71, is a chicken rice seller. PM Lee cited him as a fine example of a senior citizen who has embraced lifelong learning. He has learned to use the internet to search for new recipes for his chicken rice business, and is applying digital technology to his passion for photography.

Age is certainly no barrier to learning for Mr Chen, 79. He enrolled for a first degree course at SIM University in 2005. This was followed by a Masters degree and now he is studying for his PhD in Chinese Language and Literature.

The PM spoke for over two hours, presenting his speech first in Malay, then in Mandarin and finally in English. Rhetoric was cut to a minimum. He invited all Singaporeans to join him in the 'National Conversation', to help write the next chapter of the Singapore Story. In his speech not only did he highlight the nation's achievements, but he also cautioned against the challenges to come, one of which would be higher government spending and hence increased taxes 'sooner or later'.

He shared memories of old Singapore, including a family photo of growing up in Oxley Road.

For the full transcript and more videos of PM Lee's National Day Rally Speech 2012, go to
Channel News Asia.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I am glad I attended the public forum on "Caring For The Frail Elderly At Home" held at Singapore's Changi General Hospital this morning. In just two and a half hours I listened to seven presentations ranging from 'Home Safety' to 'Managing Medication'.

What I would like to share here is how to prevent falls at home. Many of us have elderly parents who either live on their own, or are left alone at home most of the day. I recommend that you check out this link 'NO FALLS PROGRAMME'. It contains plenty of useful information on how to make your home safe. It covers safety tips for the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, living room, with practical advice on flooring, lighting and footwear. Check out the videos too.

The hospital's shuttle bus that provides free rides between the hospital and Simei MRT station every 15 minutes.

I shudder when I think back to that fateful afternoon of March 6, 2011 - the day my mom fell and broke her hip. Her life changed forever after that, and mine too, in many ways. My mom went through six months of physical discomfort and depression. As her sole caregiver, I must say it was one of the most stressful periods of my life. Click on the link to read my personal account of caring for my mom.

So if you have an elderly parent who is alone at home most of the time, do share the information here with him.

For more useful tips, please click on the link below:

Caring for a loved one at home

Thursday, August 23, 2012


A checklist of 24 things to do for filial sons and daughters. What is your score?

While the Confucian virtue of filial piety is not quite buried along with our ancestors from China, it is at risk of becoming as antiquated as foot-binding for young Chinese ladies from good families.

The Straits Times today published an article that calls for a shoring up of filial piety in China. With the Chinese diaspora extending to all four corners of the world, the article may as well have been targeted at Chinese sons and daughters in Singapore and Malaysia.

Are we baby boomers the last line of defence left to uphold and preserve filial piety? If our adult children and grandchildren seem lacking in respect for their elders, are we as much to blame as the changing times and hence, changing values? Have we pampered and mollycoddled them too much? Have we allowed them to get away with indiscipline and disrespect to their parents and grandparents?

When was the last time we held our elderly parents' hands?

What about us? Are we exemplary models for the younger generations to emulate? Can we look at ourselves in the mirror and honestly say that we have looked after our elderly parents well, and given them our love and respect?

When was the last time we hugged our parents or held their hands? They don't need gifts of money, hampers of food or bouquets of flowers. All they want is the reassurance that they have not been forsaken and forgotten by their family members.

I ask myself all these questions too, and I have gone through the checklist above. While my friends and family would consider me a good daughter, I must confess there is plenty of room for improvement.

The time for us to start is right now, before the sands of time run out for our elderly parents, and it's too late for regrets.

How we treat our elderly parents is how our children will treat us one day in our old age. They will learn from us. What examples are we giving them?

Monday, August 20, 2012


It's FOOD, FOOD and GLORIOUS FOOD for the next few days as Malaysians celebrate Hari Raya. Non-Muslims visiting their Malay friends will be treated to a sumptuous feast of home-cooked delights. Those opting to dine out will be pampered to a majestic buffet of traditional and festive Raya cuisine.

While the temptation is there to indulge, do watch what you put on your plate, especially if you already have some medical issues to deal with, like diabetes or hypertension.

Remember the food pyramid that used to guide us in what we should eat and how much to eat? Well, you can toss that guide out of the window. Last year, the US Department of Agriculture came up with a new food guide - Choose My plate. It is a much more comprehensive guide and gives a clearer picture of what to eat and how much to eat.

A good guide to follow based on My Plate. Do visit the Harvard University's Nutrition Source website for more information on healthy eating.
It takes will power to resist the temptation to pile up on our plate. Malaysians live to eat!
(Photo: NST)
Chinese economy rice - everything looks good, but best to stick to just three selections.

I am more of a pescetarian than a vegetarian, that is, I avoid meat but will take fish and other seafood. I see this as a transitional period towards full vegetarianism.

One thing I have noticed from my research on healthy ageing and longevity. None of the elderly who live to 90 and beyond are obese. They still lead an active, healthy lifestyle, and are physically independent. Click on the link to view these age-defying role models.

That's reason enough to watch what we eat. We shouldn't starve ourselves, but neither should we stuff ourselves. If you are looking after your elderly parents, click on the link below for more information on what is best for their dietary needs. Malnutrition is more of an issue with the elderly than over-eating.

Nutrition and Diet for the Elderly

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Below are two videos to enlighten non-Muslims on how Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated in India and in China. Eid-ul-Fitr is Arabic for the 3-day celebration to mark the end of a month-long fasting or Ramadan. In Malaysia, it is called Hari Raya.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


The Star 10 August 2012
It struck me while reading the article "In a limbo" how much retirees and retired Olympians have in common.

For workers, it is mandatory for them to quit their jobs when they reach retirement age. For sportsmen and sportswomen, that age comes much earlier. At only 27, Michael Phelps, with his record haul of 22 Olympic medals, is ready to make the switch from the pool to the golf course.

Getting through the initial post-retirement stage is a huge challenge for many of these great athletes. Having spent years on intensive training as much as up to eight hours a day, they are suddenly left with time on their hands. They are no different from the baby boomers who, after having spent a lifetime working nine to five, now face long days with nothing purposeful to occupy them.

This is a critical stage. If they can make a smooth transition post-retirement, they can look forward to many more years of a rewarding new career, for example, in coaching or consulting, that allows them to draw on their vast skills and experience.

If not, they may lapse into depression. They think they are good for nothing, and a burden to their family and society. Eventually mental illness creeps in. Or they may spiral down into alcoholism like George Best, or substance abuse like Maradona. For some, suicide seems to be the only solution.

Fortunately, such tragic fates of former sports heroes are few and far in between. The majority have succeeded in making the switch and adjusting to the changes in their lives.

Here are some former Olympians we all remember so well. We can draw inspiration from how they have handled their post-retirement phase. (All photos from SavvySugar. Visit the website to view more photos.)

Carl Lewis, 51, won 10 Olympic medals, including 9 golds. He is now a track coach and a UN Goodwill Ambassador. He was recently featured in a Panasonic TV commercial on Astro.
Mohamad Ali, 70, won the light heavyweight gold in the 1960 Olympics. He is a philanthropist and was recently featured in a Louis Vuitton ad with his son.
Nadia Comaneci, 50, was the first to score a perfect 10 in a gymnastics event in the 1976 Olympics. She now runs a gym with her husband.
Bruce Jenner, 62, won the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics. He is a successful entrepreneur, TV personality, motivation speaker and actor. He appears in 'Keeping up with the Kadashians' currently being screened on Astro Channel 712.

These former Olympians show us that there is life after retirement. It all boils down to our attitude and whether we want to take control of our lives, or allow ourselves to slide into self-pity and depression.

The world does not owe us a living. Don't even expect the government to take care of us. Or assume our adult children will always be there for us.

Take responsibility for our lives.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Report in The Star 16 August 2012

This post is mainly to keep a record of public announcements made by the EPF on the issue of withdrawals. Decisions made in haste without sufficient time to hear the views of all stakeholders often result in the authorities involved having to retract their earlier statements. This 'flip-flopping' is a waste of public funds and manpower hours. The current public outcry against the unpopular amendment (section 114a) to the Evidence Act is a case in point.

Report in The Star 16 August 2016

The Star columnist P. Gunasegaran gives his views on why he thinks the EPF announcement defeats the purpose of raising the retirement age from 55 to 60. If EPF contributors are allowed to withdraw the full sum upon reaching 55, they risk having insufficient savings to see them through the next 15-20 years of retirement.  I fully support Gunasegaran's views.

Do read his article.

Related post:

Why it makes sense to leave your money in the EPF


Living a simple, frugal lifestyle. (Photo: The Sunday Times)

If you missed Lee Wei Ling's article in The Sunday Star 12 August, click on the link below to read it. The article first appeared in The Sunday Times, 5 August.

A rather interesting account of how her father, Lee Kuan Yew, former PM of Singapore, instilled frugal habits in the children. The examples she gives of her father's abhorrence of wastage come across closer to austerity than frugality. I wonder if her brothers practise the same degree of frugality.

"I GREW up in a middle-class family. Though they were well-off, my parents trained my brothers and me to be frugal from young. We had to turn off water taps completely. If my parents found a dripping tap, we would get a ticking off. And when we left a room, we had to switch off lights and air-conditioners. 

My father’s frugality extends beyond lights and air-conditioners. When he travelled abroad, he would wash his own underwear, or my mother did so when she was alive. He would complain that the cost of laundry at five-star hotels was so high he could buy new underwear for the price of the laundry service.... (Click here to read more:)

Isn't this taking frugality to the extreme?

Monday, August 13, 2012


Hannah Peterson of LifeInsuranceQuotes sent in this article below to share with Seniorsaloud community. You can read the full article on their website.

REMEMBER: These are all MYTHS! Believe them at your own risk.

Myth #1: Older people are either cranky or depressed. 

Myth #2: Growing old means getting sick. 

Myth #3: Senility is inevitable.

Myth #4: Old people don't have sex.

Myth #5: Seniors are incapable of learning anything new.

Myth #6: Older workers are less productive and can't keep up.

Myth #7: Memory loss is inevitable.

You might also want to check out SeniorsAloud's post on the same topic:

Debunking the myths of ageing (includes video of Palm Spring Follies)

Saturday, August 11, 2012


There is a fine line between mercy killing and murder. When a man helps his terminally-ill spouse end her life as she could no longer endure all the pain and suffering, is he an accomplice to a suicide or is he a murderer? Or neither?

To the police of Palm Springs, CA, it was a crime punishable by law. On July 2, 2012, they arrested Bill Bentinck, 87, on suspicion of murdering his wife, Lynda, 77. He had disconnected her oxygen supply at her instructions. She had been suffering from emphysema, and had found the pain increasingly unbearable. Fortunately for Bill and his family, after spending three days in jail, he was released due to 'lack of evidence' against him.

Read the full article here...

Compassionate killing or euthanasia is still considered a crime in most countries. In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country to recognize euthanasia. Although more countries have since followed suit, including Japan and Columbia, the number remains small. Oregon is the only state in the US where physician-assisted euthanasia is legal. In Australia, it is legal only in the Northern Territory.

Life is precious, and we all want to hold on to it as long as we can. But does being kept alive with machines and endless medication constitute life as we know it? Would it matter to the patient who is already in a vegetative state with no hope of ever regaining consciousness? Is there quality of life at all?

Who has the right, the final say, to pull the plug? The patient? His doctor? His family? While the decision is pending, the medical bills are escalating. Read this excellent BBC article on the ethical issues involved.

Medical expenses incurred to keep a loved one on life support can cause financial ruin to the family. In a welfare state, the government can ill afford to sustain the growing number of the terminally-ill for an indefinite period of time.

It is sad, it is tragic but that is the harsh reality of life, and death. All of us pray for a disease-free old age. And when the time comes for us to go, we want to go quietly and peacefully in our sleep.

But God decides when and how we should exit this life. If our final days are filled with pain , and there seems no respite from it, would we have the courage to say "Turn off the oxygen supply", or "Do not resuscitate"?

My dear friends' mom had what I call 'the perfect final goodbye'. Friends and family members from near and far (overseas) had come together to celebrate the wedding of Auntie's grandson. At the wedding dinner Auntie was a picture of joy, laughing and chatting with everyone, obviously delighted that all her loved ones were around her that night. I remember saying good night to her as I passed her table on the way out after the dinner. She was all smiles, and looking radiant.

The next day 13 May 2012, she passed away peacefully in the afternoon while taking a rest. She was 87.

I remember too seeing another auntie, one of my mom's closest friends, groaning in pain as she struggled to breathe, her body ravaged by terminal cancer. It was a sight that remains etched in my mind. That was in the 1970s.

I lost my dear younger sister in 2006. She was 56 at the time. In the last two years alone, I have lost several friends, some close, some not so close. There is a certain sadness as you read their obituary in the papers or on Facebook. You realize you are at the age where the roll call has already started. And you wonder when your name will be called...

Life is precious. Value it.

Related articles:

The Right to Live....or Die

Do not resuscitate...Let me die

When extending life means prolonging dying (includes video)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Albert Einstein wasn't the only advocate of life-long learning. So were Henry Ford and Mahatma Gandhi. These great men died at 76, 83 and 78 respectively - proof that when we stimulate our brain cells by picking up new skills, new experiences and new knowledge, we could extend our life span and keep Alzheimer's at bay.

Higher institutions of learning around the world are reporting an increase in intake from older students. In Malaysia, open universities are offering discounts as high as 75% off course fees to senior citizens born in or before 1957. Life-long learning centres catering specially to older students are mushrooming. In Singapore there is YAH Community College for the young-at-heart, while in Malaysia there is the University of Third Age (U3A). I have completed three semesters at U3A and am looking forward to starting my fourth semester there in September.

From Online Colleges.

Online courses are fast becoming the preferred choice of getting an academic degree for many senior citizens, especially for those who are housebound. Having missed out on an opportunity to further their studies during their youth, these seniors are signing up for courses that would offer them better job prospects. Others view retirement as the best time to go back to school and fulfill their academic goals. For more about this phenomenon, click here to read the article, and do follow the links.

Whatever the reasons, there is a worldwide surge in the number of older students. Unlike employment, there is no upper age limit for admission. The oldest graduate in the world is Chao Mu-he from Taiwan. He was 96 when he received a Masters in Philosophy in 2009. The oldest elementary school student is Ma XiuXian, 102, from China.

As for me, getting a Masters in Gerontology is on my bucket list. The Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) offers the course, but at fees that are beyond my budget. I am inspired by Chao Mu-He and others like him. If he can do it at the age of 96, well, there is hope for me yet. After all, I am only a young 64!

Monday, August 6, 2012


Long before Michelle Yeoh did us proud with her role as a Bond girl in "Tomorrow Never Dies", Blossom Wong was already making world headlines in her real life role as a police officer with the Special Branch, often dressed in her eye-catching, figure-hugging cheongsam.

I remember seeing this photo of Blossom in the papers back in the 1960s escorting Senator Robert Kennedy and his wife Ethel when they visited Malaysia. My eyes were drawn to her svelte figure. Wow! I had never seen any of our local police women looking so glamorous. She certainly did justice to the cheongsam. Her beehive hairdo was the trend in those days, before Amy Winehouse made it her signature look.

NST photo
Now 74 and retired after 36 years of service, Blossom, whose real name is Wong Kooi Fong, still leads an active life. This spunky lady spends most of her days enjoying her favorite hobby - gardening. That gives you a clue to her nickname Blossom.

If you missed the interview with her in the New Sunday Times yesterday, you can watch it on the Youtube video below. Travel back to the 1960s with her as she recounts chapters from her life and how she ended up in the police force. "If I could do it all again, I would," says Blossom.