August 8, 2011

HONG KONG: Singapore's Teresa Hsu, 113, Talks Longevity

SINGAPORE / Asian Scientist / News / August 8, 2011

Living to 100 isn’t all about genes, but rather it has a lot to do with good nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle, Hong Kong geriatric experts said yesterday at Elderly Health Day 2011.

According to Dr. Bernard Kong, President of the Hong Kong Geriatrics Society, and Dr. Lo Man Wai of the University of Hong Kong, good habits developed from at least middle age can contribute greatly to longevity and quality of life – lending credence to the Chinese saying that anyone can live to be 100.

"Skeletally, people are actually designed to live to 120,” said Dr. Kong.

“The typical belief is that you simply have to have the right genes to live for a very long time, but this is not always the case. As much as 70 percent of one’s longevity can be traced to lifestyle, including the way people eat, whether or not they smoke, and how much they exercise,” he explained.

Dr. Lo added that staying connected to society is an important factor, such as through social networking sites.

“Simply staying in touch with people has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on our longevity,” Dr. Lo said.

Elderly Health Day 2011 was organized by the Hong Kong Health Care Association on Aging (HKAOA) to share the secrets of living a long, quality life through nutritional care and professional guidance. Also in attendance was a very popular centenarian, Teresa Hsu. (Photo courtesy:

The 113-year-old “Sister Teresa” was born in abject poverty in Guangdong in 1898 but rose to become one of Asia’s most beloved and inspirational social workers. She started studying nursing after World War II, at the age of 47.

Today, Hsu is the founder of the Heart to Heart Service and the Home for the Aged Sick in Singapore, where she lives as one of the city’s most cherished treasures.

“My secrets of longevity are simple: I stay positive, I contribute, I eat a healthy diet, and every morning I do yoga,” said Sister Teresa, who was flown to Hong Kong for the event.

“I think nutrition is very important. I try to stay away from heavy cooking because it takes away much of the vitamins in food. I also try to avoid caffeine. Overall, my eating habits are very simple: I consume a lot of foods like avocado, milk, beans and raw eggs that are high in nutrients like proteins and omega-3,” she said.

Hsu also discussed the benefit of meditation in staying healthy at her age.

“Meditation is also an important part of my life. I spend a couple of hours every morning ‘clearing my brain’ and focusing on the day ahead. I believe a healthy brain goes a long way toward living a long, quality life,” she said.

Elderly Health Day 2011 was an open-to-the-public event at the Dragon Center, with an estimated 2000 people in attendance.

In addition to meeting Sister Teresa and the day’s guests of honor, attendees received free blood pressure and bone density tests as well as counsel from a nutritionist on dietary principles and supplements.

Source: Hong Kong Health Care Association on Aging Limited

Copyright © 2011 Asian Scientist, LLP.
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights.
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.