For example, Rahmat was never your model student. In fact, he was one of those who always got into trouble with fellow students, prefects, teachers, and the headmaster. He told me that he had been caned so many times in the headmaster’s room that every time he was summoned to the headmaster’s office, he will be greeted warmly and offered his choice of cane he wished to be caned with.
I was never close to Rahmat during our school days as we had different interests. Immediately after leaving school, he went on to travel the world on a shoestring budget and worked on jobs that he enjoyed doing. Ultimately, he returned and raised not one but two families, something most of us can only dream of but dared not do!
One of our school’s teachers in Penang looked like Hitler and taught us English, and Literature was his favourite target. He would raise his hand in a Hitler salute every time he met the teacher, who sadly passed away recently at over 80.
Yet he was a gentle teacher well-loved by those who respected his knowledge and teaching of the subject. In some of our class reunions attended by our teachers we reminisce the fond memories of our school days.
Since we started to organise class reunions a couple of decades ago in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kedah, we have enhanced our friendships and engagements via social media. But nothing can substitute the physical face-to-face reunions.
This certainly endeared us to each other as we discovered many anecdotes regarding bringing up our families, the joys and tragedies that we overcame and the learnings from all these invaluable life experiences.
Challenges of an ageing population
Social media engagements can be superficial, especially by those who do not respond with their own opinions but by forwarding religious philosophies and political opinions of others and trying to look clever.
This can also be a bone of contention and controversy, often resulting in animosity within the group. In one of my other groups, I was removed due to differences in opinions with one of them who happened to be the admin.
Malaysia is becoming a country with an ageing population. And with it comes new problems and challenges. Those aged 60 years and above is estimated to be more than 3.3 million or about 10 per cent of the population.
Furthermore, the aged also live longer due to better healthcare and nutritional facilities. However, most of the elderly are also less healthy than the young, which also puts pressure on the distribution of these facilities, especially in the urban areas where the aged tend to reside.
The physical and social changes associated with ageing are combined with the debilitating effects of multiple, acute, and chronic diseases. They cannot escape the accumulation of chronic pathologies as they grow older. Incontinence, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will increase among the aged, putting pressure on the family and the healthcare system.
More nursing homes have been set up to cater to their needs as their children can afford it. In Ipoh, one of my friends has moved into a senior citizens housing complex where the facilities are designed to cater to their needs.
This includes round the clock medical emergency facilities which can be accessed literally at the touch of a button anywhere within the complex. Although Malaysia has comprehensive medical and healthcare services, special programs for the aged are simply lacking.
Prevention is better than cure
Prevention of diseases and disabilities in the elderly can be achieved through promoting a healthy lifestyle targeted at the young and different age segments as this would benefit them. A healthy young adult will normally continue to become healthy elderly citizens if their lifestyle practices are continued. Hence, we must intensify the educational and counselling campaigns for a healthy lifestyle in every age group.
However, there is a disconnect between achieving a healthy nutritional lifestyle and the availability of less than healthy food, drinks and outlets which are promoted heavily via advertising campaigns. Fast foods with their preservatives, sugar and salt content are the cause of diseases like diabetes, gout, heart, and blood pressure among the younger population.
As an ageing person who practices a healthy lifestyle I find this trend nothing alarming. I see friends and relatives suffering from these Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD).
And my classmates like Rahmat suffer from diabetes and glaucoma, and he takes pills not only daily but also self- administers insulin injections. Another classmate like Dr Rashid and others, including my brother-in-law are in the same situation. They used to be sportsmen during their school and adult working days but not anymore.
To me this is regrettable, and I thank God for having the realisation and courage to change my nutritional and physical lifestyle more than 20 years ago. I realised then that it is hard work growing old to maintain a healthy life. No such thing as retirement and rest, lest you want to rest in peace in no time!
Coming back to our @Yan Reunion 2022, we first went to Jitra to celebrate the opening of Tok Jamil Murshid’s new Tafiz school. Now that is a man who has found purpose in life.
The next day, we were in Yan at Tok Mat Ibnihajar’s small country retreat. The river surrounding the retreat and the pool filled with cool river water was perfect for a “Selam-Dunk” competition to determine who could stay underwater the longest. Sharifuddin defended the title he held last year with a time of one minute 4.23 seconds. Prof Zaidi was second at 47 seconds and yours truly third at 43 seconds. Not bad at all.
Of course, when in Yan, do what the Yans do – eat durians, mangosteens and rambutans. The reunion ended with a great barbeque of chicken, seafood and mutton as all diet restrictions flew out the window into the flowing stream nearby.
As classmates in our late journey of life, despite everything, there is no substitute for a positive attitude towards life and living. You can be 71 years old but have an attitude of a 17-year-old. Growing old is inevitable but growing up is optional. — The Health
ADI SATRIA, a veteran of marketing communications, continues to find a new sense of purpose in life after so-called retirement in the corporate world. Changing lifestyles to fit his physical and mental condition will only motivate him to live life to the fullest for longer, as nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it.