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 some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..

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Lamts18
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PostSubject: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:12 pm

A very good read! MM speaks from his experience:-

MY CONCERN today is, what is it I can tell you which can add to
your knowledge about ageing and what ageing societies can do. You know
more about this subject than I do. A lot of it is out in the media,
internet and books. So I thought the best way would be to take a
personal standpoint and tell you how I approach this question of ageing.

If I cast my mind back, I can see turning points in my physical and
mental health.. You know, when you're young, I didn't bother, assumed
good health was God-given and would always be there. When I was about
1957 that was - I was about 34, we were competing in elections, and I
was really fond of drinking beer and smoking. And after the election
campaign, in Victoria Memorial Hall - we had won the election, the City
Council election - I couldn't thank the voters because I had lost my
voice. I'd been smoking furiously. I'd take a packet of 10 t o deceive
myself, but I'd run through the packet just sitting on the stage,
watching the crowd, getting the feeling, the mood before I speak.

In other words, there were three speeches a night. Three speeches a
night, 30 cigarettes, a lot of beer after that, and the voice was gone.

I remember I had a case in Kuching, Sarawak. So I took the flight and I
felt awful. I had to make up my mind whether I was going to be an
effective campaigner and a lawyer, in which case I cannot destroy my
voice, and I can't go on. So I stopped smoking. It was a tremendous
deprivation because I was addicted to it. And I used to wake up
dreaming...the nightmare was I resumed smoking.

But I made a choice and said, if I continue this, I will not be able to
do my job. I didn't know anything about cancer of the throat or
oesophagus or the lungs, etc. But it turned out it had many other
deleterious effects.

Strangely enough after that, I becam e very allergic, hyper-allergic to
smoking, so much so that I would plead with my Cabinet ministers not to
smoke in the Cabinet room. You want to smoke, please go out, because I
am allergic.

Then one day I was at the home of my colleague, Mr Rajaratnam, meeting
foreign correspondents including some from the London Times and they
took a picture of me and I had a big belly like that (puts his hands in
front of his belly), a beer belly. I felt no, no, this will not do. So I
started playing more golf, hit hundreds of balls on the practice tee.
But this didn't go down. There was only one way it could go down:
consume less, burn up more.

Another turning point came when - this was 1976, after the general
election - I was feeling tired. I was breathing deeply at the Istana, on
the lawns. My daughter, who at that time just graduating as a doctor,
said, 'What are you trying to do?' I said, 'I feel an effort to breathe
in more oxygen .' She said: 'Don't play golf. Run. Aerobics.' So she gave
me a book , quite a famous book and, then, very current in America on
how you score aerobic points swimming, running, whatever it is, cycling.
I looked at it sceptically. I wasn't very keen on running. I was keen on
golf. So I said, 'Let's try'. So in-between golf shots while playing on
my own, sometimes nine holes at the Istana, I would try and walk fast
between shots. Then I began to run between shots. And I felt better.
After a while, I said: 'Okay, after my golf, I run.' And after a few
years, I said, 'Golf takes so long. The running takes 15 minutes. Let's
cut out the golf and let's run.'

I think the most important thing in ageing is you got to understand
yourself. And the knowledge now is all there.

When I was growing up, the knowledge wasn't there. I had to get the
knowledge from friends, from doctors. But perhaps the most important bit
of knowledge that the do ctor gave me was one day, when I said, 'Look,
I'm feeling slower and sluggish.' So he gave me a medical encyclopaedia
and he turned the pages to ageing. I read it up and it was illuminating.
A lot of it was difficult jargon but I just skimmed through to get the
gist of it.

As you grow, you reach 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and then, thereafter, you
are on a gradual slope down physically..

Mentally, you carry on and on and on until I don't know what age,
but mathematicians will tell you that they know their best output is
when they're in their 20s and 30s when your mental energy is powerful
and you haven't lost many neurons. That's what they tell me.

So, as you acquire more knowledge, you then craft a programme
for yourself to maximise what you have. It's just common sense. I
never planned to live till 85 or 84! I just didn't think about it. I
said: 'Well, my mother died when she was 74, she had a stroke. My
father died when he was 94.'

But I saw him, and he lived a long life, well, maybe it was his DNA. But
more than that, he swam every day and he kept himself busy. He
was working for the Shell company. He was in charge, he was a
superintendent of an oil depot. When he retired, he started becoming a
salesman. So people used to tell me, 'Your father is selling watches at
BP de Silva.' My father was then living with me. But it kept him busy.
He had that routine: He meets people, he sells watches, he buys and
sells all kinds of semi-precious stones, he circulates coins. And he
keeps going. But at 87, 88, he fell, going down the steps from his room
to the dining room, broke his arm, three months incapacitated.
Thereafter, he couldn't go back to swimming. Then he became
wheelchair-bound. Then it became a problem because my house was
constructed that way. So my brother - who's a doctor and had a flat
(one-level) house - took him in. And he lived on till 9 4. But towards
the end, he had gradual loss of mental powers.

So my calculations, I'm somewhere between 74 and 94. And I've reached
the halfway point now. But have I?

Well, 1996 when I was 73, I was cycling and I felt tightening on the
neck. Oh, I must retire today. So I stopped. Next day, I returned to the
bicycle. After five minutes it became worse.

So I said, no, no, this is something serious, it's got to do with the
blood vessels. Rung up my doctor, who said, 'Come tomorrow'. Went
tomorrow, he checked me, and said, 'Come back tomorrow for an
angiogram.'

I said: 'What's that?' He said, 'We'll pump something in and we'll see
whether the coronary arteries are cleared or blocked.' I was going to go
home. But an MP who was a cardiologist happened to be around, so he came
in and said: 'What are you doing here?' I said, 'I've got this.' He
said: 'Don't go home. You stay here tonight. I've sent patients home and
the y never came back. Just stay here. They'll put you on the monitor.

They'll watch your heart. And if anything, an emergency arises, they
will take you straight to the theatre. You go home. You've got no such
monitor. You may never come back.'

So I stayed there. Pumped in the dye, yes it was blocked, the left
circumflex, not the critical, lead one. So that's lucky for me. Two
weeks
later, I was walking around,I felt it's coming back. Yes it has come
back, it had occluded. So this time they said: 'We'll put in a stent.'

I'm one of the first few in Singapore to have the stent, so it was a
brand new operation. Fortunately, the man who invented the stent was out
here selling his stent. He was from San Jose, La Jolla something or the
other. So my doctor got hold of him and he supervised the operation. He
said put the stent in. My doctor did the operation, he just watched it
all and then that's that. That was before all this prob lem about lining
the stent to make sure that it doesn't occlude and create a disturbance.

So at each stage, I learnt something more about myself and I stored
that.

I said, 'Oh, this is now a danger point.'

So all right, cut out fats, change diet, went to see a specialist in
Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital. He said: 'Take statins.' I said,
'What's that?' He said, '(They) help to reduce your cholesterol.' My
doctors were concerned. They said, 'You don't need it. Your cholesterol
levels are okay.' Two years later, more medical evidence came out. So
the doctors said, 'Take statins.'

Had there been no angioplasty, had I not known that something was up and
I cycled on, I might have gone at 74 like my mother. So I missed that
deadline.

So next deadline: my father's fall at 87.

I'm very careful now because sometimes when I turn around too fast, I
feel as if I'm going to get off balance. So my daughter, a neurologist,
she took me to the NNI, there's this nerve conduction test, put
electrodes here and there.

The transmission of the messages between the feet and the brain has
slowed down.

So all the exercise, everything, effort put in, I'm fit, I swim, I
cycle.
But I can't prevent this losing of conductivity of the nerves and
this transmission. So just go slow.

So when I climb up the steps, I have no problem. When I go down the
steps, I need to be sure that I've got something I can hang on to, just
in case. So it's a constant process of adjustment.

But I think the most important single lesson I learnt in life was that
if
you isolate yourself, you're done for.

The human being is a social animal - he needs stimuli, he needs to meet
people, to catch up with the world.

I don't much like travel but I travel very frequently despite the jet
lag, because I get to meet people of great interest to me, who will help
me in my work as chairman of our GIC. So I know, I'm on several boards
of banks, international advisory boards of banks, of oil companies and
so on.

And I meet them and I get to understand what's happening in the world,
what has changed since I was here one month ago, one year ago. I go to
India, I go to China.

And that stimuli brings me to the world of today. I'm not living in the
world, when I was active, more active 20, 30 years ago. So I tell my
wife. She woke up late today. I said, 'Never mind, you come along by 12
o'clock. I go first.'

If you sit back - because part of the ending part of the encyclopaedia
which I read was very depressing - as you get old, you withdraw from
everything and then all you will have is your bedroom and the
photographs and the furniture that you know, and that's your world. So
if you've got to go to hospital, the doctor advises you to bring some
photographs so that you'll know y ou're not lost in a different world,
that this is like your bedroom.

I'm determined that I will not, as long as I can, to be reduced, to have
my horizons closed on me like that. It is the stimuli, it is the
constant interaction with people across the world that keeps me aware
and alive to what's going on and what we can do to adjust to this
different world.

In other words, you must have an interest in life. If you believe that
at 55, you're retiring, you're going to read books, play golf and drink
wine, then I think you're done for. So statistically they will show you
that all the people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners
die off very quickly.

So we now have a social problem with medical sciences, new procedures,
new drugs, many more people are going to live long lives. If the mindset
is that when I reach retirement age 62, I'm old, I can't work anymore, I
don't have to work, I just sit back, now is th e time I'll enjoy life, I
think you're making the biggest mistake of your life.

After one month, or after two months, even if you go travelling with
nothing to do, with no purpose in life, you will just degrade, you'll go
yo seed.

The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person
in Singapore and elsewhere: Keep yourself interested, have a challenge.

If you're not interested in the world and the world is not interested in
you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a
dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that's real
torture. So when I read that people believe, Singaporeans say, 'Oh,
62 I'm retiring.' I say to them, 'You really want to die quickly?' If
you
want to see sunrise tomorrow or sunset, you must have a reason, you must
have the stimuli to keep going..'

Have a purpose driven life and finish well my friends.


Last edited by Lamts18 on Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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siaw8
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PostSubject: Re: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:23 pm

Good read...
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Ssquirrel
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PostSubject: Re: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:26 pm

Wa lau eh bro... old ppl like me "lao hua yen/old flower eye.". summore you want me to read so long ah???

Err.. but got this part like a bit buay steady leh...
"If you believe that at 55, you're retiring, you're going to read books, play golf and drink wine, then I think you're done for."

K, lah.. maybe he meant the read books part lah..
My thinking abit different leh.., "If you believe at 55, you're retiring, you're going to chase skirt, play golf and drink wine, then you are my hero." Razz

hahhaha
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Lamts18
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PostSubject: Re: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:32 pm

yes,, when i read that portion... i woke up.... hence i shall retire, play golf, drink wine in moderation, chase skirts and go geylang.. active life style... Very Happy
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Ssquirrel
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PostSubject: Re: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:45 pm

Lamts18 wrote:
yes,, when i read that portion... i woke up.... hence i shall retire, play golf, drink wine in moderation, chase skirts and go geylang.. active life style... Very Happy

My hero!!! cheers
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Lamts18
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PostSubject: Re: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:49 pm

Pleassseee join me... Very Happy
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Duval_S
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PostSubject: Re: some words from our wise Minister Mentor on ageing..   Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:59 pm

I think the crux of MM's is that we need to keep mental and physical active. Geylang will definitely keep one physically active, reading will keep eyes and mind engaged and balance all these with golf where this will keep one physically ready + heart pumping and of cos the practise of our lungs...shouting FORE and practise of 'french' of coz.
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