Friday, June 28, 2013


We all love to eat, don't we? Malaysians live to eat. We have food stalls that remain open 24 hours a day. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to variety of food - Malay, Chinese, Indian, western, eastern, fusion, fast food, etcetera. It is so easy to succumb to the temptation of eating whatever we like without paying heed to what it will do to our health.

The young go for food that is sweet, salty, deep fried and processed. We were all young once. In our later years, we pay the price when we suffer a host of health problems like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Source: Straits Times
It is never too late to lay the foundation of good health. Start with eating the right foods, and doing simple exercises to keep fit. Hope the tips below and the food charts provide a useful guide to get you started on eating well and eating right for good health.

And for those with school-going grandchildren, it's always good to teach them what to eat at the school canteen. Better still, prepare healthy snacks or lunch boxes for them to bring to school.

A good website to check out is the Singapore Health Promotion Board's Dietary Guide for Older Adults. Click here to access.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Specific illnesses are caused by specific character traits. An interesting angle from an ayurvedic perspective. I have always believed that certain negative emotions act like toxins in the body. Over time these toxic emotions can give rise to health problems.

This extract below comes from an article that has been circulating on Facebook recently. Worth giving some serious thought to the advice given in the article. To read the full article, click here.

Causes of hard to cure diseases from a different angle

The ancient ayurvedic health sciences not only prove the existence of psychosomatic illnesses, but also present a list of specific illnesses caused by specific character traits. What else could the thoughts be dependent on if not on the character?

Here are a few examples that could explain the causes of disease you or your loved ones may be suffering from:

Jealousy - causes oncological diseases, weakens the immune system.
Vengefulness - causes insomnia and throat diseases.
Inability to find a solution to a situation - causes lung diseases.
Lacking moral principals - causes chronic diseases, infections, and skin diseases.
Being too categorical or unwavering in beliefs - causes diabetes, migraines, and inflammations.
Lying - causes alcoholism, fungal infections, and weakens the immune system.
Aggressiveness - causes gastric ulcers, acid reflux, and warts.
Reticence - causes schizophrenia and kidney diseases.
Cruelty - causes epilepsy, asthma, and anemia.
Seeking conflicts - causes thyroid enlargement.
Apathy - causes diabetes.
Inconsistency or being fickle - causes infertility.
Being rude or insulting - causes diabetes and heart diseases.
Anxiety - causes digestive system disorders, heart, and skin diseases.
Greed - causes oncological diseases, obesity, and heart diseases.

An interesting fact is that it is enough to cure your character, and the relevant diseases go away permanently. This is especially important to know for those who suffer from diseases such as diabetes and cancer, for which modern medicine does not have a cure.

Illness is simply our body's signal about an incorrect (or, rather, non-beneficial) lifestyle. Firstly it manifests as anxiety, fear, and negative thoughts. Only then, if no effort is made to work on oneself, the body sends a more powerful signal to get your attention and make you think about what you are doing wrong, in the form of physical symptoms.

Holistic medicine is all that we need
These days, even modern medicine agrees: 70% of all illnesses materialise because of negative thoughts or emotional stress. Illnesses attributed to this cause are called “psychosomatic,” and they are the biggest headache of the whole mainstream healthcare system.

Sometimes several days of elevated stress is all that is needed to open up a gastric ulcer. Sometimes several years of it is all it takes to develop diabetes or heart disease, not to mention poor general health, lowered productivity, and lack of happiness. Doctors and scientists unanimously agree that our thoughts directly affect the activity of our organs and the state of our bodies in general.

Ancient medicine is classified as holistic, because it takes care not only of the physical body, but also of the psyche, as well as one's personal lifestyle. This method allows one to remove the cause of the illness, rather than merely treating the symptoms, therefore stopping it from reappearing. Modern medicine, on the other hand, deals with the consequences of the illness—bodily ailments. This is why the illness often comes back, since the cause of the illness is not actually being treated.

This is where one of the biggest secrets to health reveals itself—our thoughts can heal us. There are multiple recorded stories that discuss people who were severely ill and healed themselves with the power of thought, despite doctors losing all hope.

One of such impressive story tells us about Morris Goodman, who, in 1981, was involved in a plane crash and was supposed to die due to irreversible spine damage and a punctured diaphragm. The man's life was supported by a breathing ventilator, and the only movement he could do was blinking. However, this man was aware of the power of thought, and in just a few days successfully regenerated his own diaphragm and could breathe independently. 

He also consciously regenerated his damaged spinal cord and started to move all of his limbs. Doctors could not understand the situation at all because this just “could not be happening.” After a few months, however, Morris Goodman began to walk again, and eventually fully recovered. This is only one of many cases that are happening all around us. Thoughts cannot only make the body ill, but can also help it recover from incurable diseases.

This is the video referred to above. I first saw it in 2005 at a motivational talk about the power of thought.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


There are some lessons in life that we can learn only through personal experience. As is often said, the advice of the wise and elderly is lost on the young. When we were young, we turned deaf ears to our parents' advice. And now we wonder why our children don't listen to us!

Likewise, even as we enter our third age, and especially for those of us waiting in the departure lounge, there are still lessons we can pick up from those who were there before us. It is when time is running out on us that we finally realize that life is precious, that time is priceless.


You have probably viewed this video before. But we all need a reminder every now and then, plus a good kick in the butt to heed the advice of our elders.

Friday, June 21, 2013


This video below was shared by Dr Michael Heah at the recent "Live Your Best Years" workshop co-organized by Seniorsaloud. It is a powerful testimony of the indomitable spirit of Alice Herz-Sommer. She turns 110 in November this year, and is the world's oldest survivor of the holocaust. One can only imagine the horrors she has witnessed and the mental and emotional anguish she has experienced. Through it all, she has kept her sanity and risen above hatred and bitterness.

Today Alice lives a quiet life in England. She plays on her piano three hours a day and continues to be an inspiration to those who know her, have read about her or seen the films about her.

Some gems of wisdom from Alice Sommer:

"I know about the bad, but I look for the good things."
"We are all sometimes good, sometimes bad."
"I never hate. Hatred eats the soul of the hater, not the hated.”
"Only when we are old, do we realize the beauty of life – life is a present."
“Every day in life is beautiful...every day!”
“When you are optimistic, when you are not complaining, when you look at the good side of your life, everybody loves you.”

Alice continues to play her piano every day. “Music saved my life and Music saves me still.
Music is God. In difficult times you feel it, especially when you are suffering.”

Monday, June 17, 2013


Two full days of learning, sharing and networking, plus some fun, good food and great company. That's what participants were promised and that's what they got from the recently-concluded "LIVE YOUR BEST YEARS" workshop organized by Seniorsaloud and CareMatters.

Here's a pictorial account of the event for those who were unable to make it.

Ms Lin Chua, founder of the AUTORR Foundation delivering the opening keynote address. She stressed the importance of maintaining family values, especially filial piety. (Note: Please imagine the backdrop reads "LIVE YOUR BEST YEARS")
Well-known consultant geriatrician Dr Rajbans Singh gave sound advice on how to take care of our body, mind and spirit and lay the foundation for longevity.
Not only were participants given free health checks, they were also treated to a demo by MyFlexHealth on exercises to do to maintain strength, balance and flexibility
Strengthening exercises - lifting bottles of water
Mr Vincent Pun who has been with the Befrienders for nine years shared with participants a checklist of qualities they must have to be a dedicated volunteer. "Do you have what it takes to do volunteer work? You can't help others if you need help yourself." 
Senior research officer with the Institute of Gerontology, UPM, (now renamed MyAgeing) Mr Chai Sen Tyng, brought participants up to date with facts and figures from surveys done to show why we must stay connected with family, friends and community. "Make use of social media tools to stay in touch." 
Master coach, Dr Michael Heah, of Corporate Coach Academy, giving pointers to a group of participants after his presentation "Self-Empowerment for Purposeful Living". 
The breakout session: groups working on the 10 areas of purposeful living. 
The top three areas that this group had chosen to work on for purposeful living.
One of the groups sharing what the members had discussed
To mark Father's Day on Sunday. all fathers attending the workshop received freshly-baked almond cookies courtesy of Koeh Siew Lim of Nuts&Cups as well as the latest issue of Smart Investor magazine (not shown in picture)
Buffet lunch on Day 2 was most enjoyable for the food and the camaraderie. Some participants were already asking about the next event!
Joyce Chuah, CEO of Success Concepts, gave participants plenty to ponder on in her presentation ‘Your Best Years Yet. Ensuring the financial security you need in retirement'
Financial consultant from Success Concepts crunching some numbers for these participants following Joyce's presentation. 

Organizers Seniorsaloud and CareMatters would like to thank the following for making the "LIVE YOUR BEST YEARS" a huge success.

The speakers:
  • Ms Lin Chua
  • Dr Rajbans Singh
  • Mr Vincent Pun
  • Mr Chai Sen Tyng 
  • Dr Michael Heah
  • Ms Joyce Chuah
The companies:
  • MyFlexHealth
  • Success Concepts
  • Abbott Nutrition Malaysia
  • Biogrow
  • SCA Hygiene Marketing Sdn Bhd
  • UNZA (M) Sdn Bhd
The NGOs:
  • AUTORR Foundation
  • University of Third Age, KL&Selangor (U3A) Malaysia
  • Africa-Asia Destitute Relief Foundation (ADRF) Malaysia
  • DoGoodVolunteer (Leaderonomics - Star)
And most of all, to all the participants, A BIG THANK YOU for your support in attending the workshop, despite Sunday being Father's Day. We look forward to meeting up again at the next event.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Photograph by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP via Getty Images
Population in small towns inevitably shrink when young people move to bigger towns to seek employment or further their studies. Today, there is another reason as well - declining birth rate.

It's not hard to think of a scenario in the near future where small towns become villages of the elderly. Schools are forced to close from a lack of pupils and businesses move away to better opportunities elsewhere. 

In many countries today, falling birth rate and longer life expectancy combine to make this a demographic crisis that will affect every aspect of life as we know it.

Take as an example, Namoku, a small town in Japan that is becoming a town of silver-haired residents. Do view the video and ponder on the economic and social impact of a growing elderly population.

What has the government done to prepare for the ageing 'tsunami'? How prepared are young people to cope with the healthcare needs and financial dependency of their aged parents? Will there be enough caregivers and medical professionals to look after the elderly?

Without far-sighted planning, our towns would face the same fate as Namoku.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


"JANJI DITEPATI" or 'Promises Kept'. That was the theme for the National Day celebrations in August 2012. It was a theme the PM returned to repeatedly on his campaign trail in the run-up to the General Elections on 5 May 2013. Have all the promises been kept? Good question. Ask the people.

It is easy to make promises, especially verbal ones. Keeping one's word is another matter. Integrity is a rare quality these days. In a dog eat dog world, people will promise anything to get what they want. Once they have it in hand, amnesia sets in. 'Oh, did I promise that? I don't recall.'

In business it takes years to establish a reputation, a brand name that is based on quality, efficiency and reliability. But a single act of wrong-doing can lead to business ruin. When the company's customer loyalty goes out the window for good, the company can also shut down for good. The temptation is always there to do what we know is wrong in return for quick gains and ill-gotten profits.

The same applies to relationships. A friendship that is based on a foundation of trust is jeopardized when friends betray that trust. A marriage that is nurtured on love, trust and faithfulness can end up in a divorce when one partner secretly cheats on the other.

Breaking one's word, telling a lie, covering up wrong-doing - if we know what we plan to do is wrong, and still we go ahead with it, we must be prepared to face the consequences. If we are lucky, we may be forgiven or we may escape with a light sentence. But if we justify a wrong-doing with more covers-up, there will be no end to it. We will just be digging a grave for the demise of our business or marriage.

Do read this excellent article "Success will come and go, but integrity is forever" by Amy Rees Anderson. She is a regular contributor for 

Friday, June 7, 2013


As we age, we can expect some changes in our physical and mental condition. Many of these changes are part and parcel of the ageing process, and shouldn't cause any alarm. However, there may be some changes that are warning signs of something more serious. We should never dismiss any persistent or sudden symptoms that are causing us pain or discomfort as it could mean some underlying health problems.

If you have a high fever that won't go away, or a recurring stomach pain, go see a doctor immediately. A thorough medical examination may reveal nothing serious, or if there is something to be concerned about, you would have nipped it in the bud at an early stage.

I am speaking from my own personal experience, as I have gone under the knife - twice. I used to be an exercise addict. Doing three hours straight on a treadmill followed by an hour of high impact aerobics was the norm to me at my gym back in the 1980s. I was also a regular at road races.

That's me giving a thumbs-up sign before being wheeled to the
operating room on 26 June 2008, two days before my 60th birthday.

I thought I was doing pretty well at keeping fit until I began to experience stabbing pains in my abdomen every now and then. I dismissed the pains as the usual 'stitch in the tummy' after a run. Nothing to be overly alarmed about, I thought. Then one evening after a strenuous workout at the gym, I literally collapsed in the locker room. I couldn't get up as I had the most excruciating pain in my stomach that left me drenched in cold sweat.

To cut the story short, I ended up minus a gall bladder two weeks later. That was my first operation in September 1989. Almost 20 years later, I had my second operation where part of my liver was removed.

I have friends who have, like me, paid dearly for ignoring early warning signs of something wrong with their body. These symptoms later resulted in cancer, stroke and heart attacks.

I recently came across this excellent article by Beth Howard in the AARP magazine. It highlights nine symptoms that we should never ignore. I have taken the liberty of re-posting extracts below for educational purposes. To read the original article with more details, please click here.

1. Sudden Intense Headache

If you experience severe head pain unlike any you've had before, especially if it peaks in seconds to minutes in any part of the head, it could signal a ruptured aneurysm, a blood vessel in your brain that suddenly bursts, requiring immediate attention.

It could also be shingles which can cause pain in the forehead days before the skin reaction erupts. Shingles is a painful flare-up of the herpes zoster virus that lies dormant in anyone who's had chicken pox. Contrary to common belief, sudden severe headaches are unlikely to be a sign of a brain tumor. 

2. Chest Pain

Any intense discomfort, heaviness or pressure — like an elephant sitting on your chest — could spell heart attack. It may be combined with pain radiating down an arm, nausea and vomiting, sweating, and shortness of breath. Women can experience more subtle symptoms, like fatigue, a burning sensation or upper abdominal pain. If these symptoms occur only during exertion, it could also be angina, which happens when the heart muscle temporarily doesn't get enough blood.

3. Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing more than 5 percent of your body weight — without trying — over a period of six months could mean cancer: Weight loss is a symptom in up to 36 percent of cancers in older people. It could mean endocrine disorders e.g. hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. The condition also triggers restlessness, sweating, increased appetite and difficulty concentrating.

If your weight loss is accompanied by extreme thirst or hunger, fatigue and frequent urination, it could be a sign of diabetes.

4. Unusual Bleeding

Ulcers and colon cancer can cause rectal bleeding or black or tarry stools. If you haven't had a colonoscopy recently, talk to your physician. Vaginal bleeding can be linked to gynecologic cancers. Bloody vomit can result from stomach or esophageal cancer, and people with lung cancer can cough up blood. 

Blood in the stool may be due to hemorrhoids, while blood in the urine may be the result of a bladder or kidney infection. Vaginal bleeding long after menopause may be due to the growth of benign polyps or fibroids. Vomiting blood can result from a tear in the blood vessels or an ulcer in the stomach or esophagus. And coughing up blood can happen with noncancerous conditions, like bronchitis, pneumonia or tuberculosis.

5. High or Persistent Fever

Fever is your body's way of fighting infection. But fever of 103 degrees and higher warrants a trip to the doctor. It may indicate a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart chambers and valves) or meningitis, which may require antibiotics to clear up. A persistent low-grade fever — for several weeks — with no obvious cause is characteristic of some infections, including a sinus infection, and some cancers, like lymphoma and leukemia.

6. Shortness of Breath

When organs aren't getting enough oxygen, breathlessness can result. Sudden shortness of breath can indicate a pulmonary embolism — when a blood clot forms in the body's deep veins (usually in the legs), travels to the lungs and gets lodged in the lung's blood vessels. If you find yourself gasping after climbing two or three stairs or getting tired sooner than you used to, doctors will want to rule out chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially if it's accompanied by a cough and fatigue and you have a history of smoking. Irregular heart rhythm, congestive heart failure and other types of heart disease are additional possibilities.  

7. Sudden Confusion

If you're experiencing sudden confusion, personality changes, aggression or an inability to concentrate, it's important to see a doctor right away. In the worst case, a brain tumor or bleeding in the brain could be behind the delirium. If you're also experiencing slurred speech, difficulty finding the right words, or numbness or weakness in the face, hand or leg, stroke is a strong possibility. Get to the doctor immediately. Any delay beyond two to three hours may result in irreversible brain loss

8. Swelling in the Legs

An accumulation of fluid (called edema) in the extremities can be caused by a number of conditions, but the one that most concerns doctors is heart failure, when the heart cannot pump as much blood as the body needs. When that happens, blood backs up in the veins, causing fluid to accumulate in the body's tissues. Heart failure is suspected when both legs are affected and the patient also has shortness of breath, fatigue and chest tightness.

9. Sudden or severe abdominal pain

Sudden abdominal pain could signal that an aortic aneurysm has ruptured. Alternatively, sudden pain can indicate a perforated viscus (a hole in the stomach, intestine or other hollow organ), often due to an ulcer. Intestinal ischemia, which happens when blood flow to the intestines slows or stops, starving tissues of oxygen, can be a culprit, too. Each of these conditions is life threatening, requiring emergency surgery.

Abdominal pain is frequently due to gallstones, which are hard, pebblelike deposits that get lodged in a gallbladder duct, resulting in sharp pain as well as nausea and vomiting. Although irritable bowel syndrome can trigger painful spasms in the colon, the pain tends to come and go over time and may also cause constipation, diarrhea or alternating bouts of both. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Not too long ago, actors would find themselves getting fewer film roles as they age. The same for dancers, singers and musicians. Today this no longer holds true. Ageing celebrities can still command media and audience attention. They still draw in crowds wherever they perform. 

Mick Jagger, who turns 70 in July, performs with Carrie Underwood during the Rolling Stones concert in Toronto on May 25, 2013. Click here to read more.(Source: The Los Angeles Times; Frank Gunn / Associated Press)

At 75, Dustin Hoffman has finally come up with his directorial debut "Quartet", a film about four opera singers living out their sunset years in an idyllic care home for aging musicians. The film is currently being screened at Golden Screen Cinemas at Pavilion and MidValley. Read the review in The Guardian. Reminds me of another film I caught recently on ASTRO movie channel - "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" shot in India, and starring veteran actors Celia Imrie, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith among others.

The Fabulous Palm Spring Follies. Performers' age ranges from 54 to 83. You have got to watch video clips of their performances. Seeing is believing. Read more about these amazing dancers and crooners here.

Here's the oldest rock group in the world. These grannies and grandpas are well into their 70s and 80s. They have appeared in Britain's Got Talent and had a BBC documentary made about them. Read more here.

Veteran thespians: Members of the Saitama Gold Theater group, average age 74, rehearse at the Saitama Arts Theater on April 29 ahead of their upcoming tour of Japan and Paris from May 30-June 1. Click here to read more. (Source: The Japan Times; AFP)

Above: Ruth Flowers, now 71, is the world's oldest DJ. She is still rocking the dance floors at major clubs around the world. Goes to prove that age is no barrier when you love what you are doing. So go follow that passion, that dream of your!