Mr Palanisamy Ramadas was born in 1929, the year of the Great Depression. He was 16 when World War II ended, and 36 when Singapore was founded. If you're picturing him as a frail elderly, you couldn't be more wrong. This 85-year old will see you at the gym... or on Twitter.

As a young lad milking the family cows in now-Malaysia, Mr Palanisamy Ramadas, now 85, probably didn’t imagine the long life he had ahead of him.

His story in a nutshell: He came to Singapore in the early 1950s and started out as a nurse. Became a nursing administrator after pursuing further studies overseas. Got married, had four children, but became a widower nearly 25 years ago after his wife passed away in a car accident in which he was also involved.

Having experienced such a tragedy, he could be excused for choosing to live in the past, but the man is focused on the present. His memory is solid; his gait and voice, steady like those of a man at least half his age. How does he do it?

How come he has so much energy that during the interview, he got up from his chair to enthusiastically perform a series of knee bends to demonstrate his good knee condition?

If the answer could be summarised in two words, they would be: Healthy habits.

Exercise is one of those key health habits. Mr Ramadas has been practising tai chi since the 1970s. After retiring, he added daily sessions of xiang gong, a form of qi gong. And in the last couple of years, he has even started going to the gym, where he uses the free weights, the resistance machines and the treadmill. “Two hours every time. Gives me a real good sweat,” he says.

Health supplements are a personal affair, and the benefits of many of them remain unproven, but for the record, Mr Ramadas has been taking royal jelly for 20 years. He also takes a daily multivitamin, and calcium that has been prescribed to him for his bones.

Although Mr Ramadas did smoke in his younger days, he stopped cold turkey when it started giving him a bad morning cough. Lack of willpower was not an issue. He hasn’t smoked in over 20 years.

As for healthy mental habits, Mr Ramadas has this to say to his fellow seniors, “Don’t let yourself go. There’s no need to look your age. For example, if you’re a lady, you should continue wearing make-up. Don’t be bothered by what people might think.”

Keeping up with fashion could also be a way to keep up with times, which is another of Mr Ramadas’ recommendations. “In Singapore, there’s always something new, be it a new building, a new attraction, you name it. Stay informed by reading newspapers, watching the news and constantly browsing the internet. Never stop trying new things, for variety is the spice of life.”

​Fact Sheet on Palanisamy Ramadas
Personal data: Age 85, widower, 4 grown-up children
Occupation :Retired nurse administrator
Hobbies :Exercise, computer, gardening, travel
Cool fact :He has travelled to about 20 cities in China, India, Australia and Asean countries in the last five years.

What are your best 3 tips for people who wish to emulate you as a healthy ageing hero?

  1. Exercise.

    First of all, it’s never too late to start exercising. I’ve stepped up my own exercise regimen after retiring. You should do exercises that maintain your muscular mass, flexibility and cardio fitness. Exercise will give you good blood circulation and oxygenate your internal organs. Start slowly and increase the tempo. I strongly recommend you join a group or exercise with friends, to benefit from the “group pressure”.

  2. Plan well for your retirement.

    Make sure you have enough money during your retirement years so you can enjoy yourself. You can’t depend on your children. No matter your nest egg, you should continue working for as long as you can. After I retired from my job as a nurse administrator, I went on to work in real estate for another 20 years. Even now I wouldn’t mind working part-time. I also recommend you get lifelong health insurance.

  3. Cultivate gratitude and kindness. Worry is the No 1 killer, so you need to learn how to relax and to focus on positive things. Gratitude is an excellent practice. Every morning, I thank God for being alive, and every night, I thank Him for a good day. Be content with what you have. And lastly, do at least one good deed a day. It could be as simple as helping to push an old lady’s cart, taking a neighbour to the clinic or giving a coin to a poor person. We all need to have friends and be kind to one another. Parting words? Mr Ramadas suggest that elderly carry on with their sex lives. “Stay happy with your wife. If you’re a widower, I recommend you get a girlfriend. It does help with longevity”, he says with a large smile.

Ref: R14