Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dancing with old age

This year, I have been thinking a lot about how I want to age. Being home in Malaysia recently, seeing the women in my clan, I am reminded of how we can always have a good laugh, always try to do the best, including aging gracefully.

And lately, I visited a friend in the Sir Edmund Hillary Retirement Home, in Ellerlie. It reminded me again of how we have some choices on how we choose to be when we grow old, although we don't necessarily have any control over our genetic disposition to early degenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer's.

Three of my aunties -- on my dad's side -- are in their 80s. My oldest aunty, or Koo Ma, has such an incredible can-do attitude. Even with a crooked leg, on a walking stick, she drags herself around the kitchen, whipping up three big pots of her signature dishes when she came for a potluck dinner at our place. Never one to sit idle, never one to complain, never one to shy away from work. She is firm, determined, loving, caring and unstintingly loyal to her family and clan. This is something I aspire to be.

Yet, on the other spectrum, getting old can be hard. What happens if early dementia sets in? What happens when your knee goes? Your joints give way? Arthritis sets in. A hundred things can go wrong with your old body -- as you edge closer to the end. Unlike the golden phoenix, we don't have the opportunity to crash, burn and be reborn. So, best get ready with the best mindset -- to grow old gracefully, and have a lot of fun.

Here's my take in my column in the Malaysian News Straits Times "How we age is like a dice game"