Lion City's Mother Teresa offers secrets to long life

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2011, 12:00am


It's been about seven decades since Singapore's Teresa Hsu Chih worked in Hong Kong, but that is not even close to a lifetime for the 113-year-old social worker.

Hsu, who is possibly the world's oldest Chinese woman, worked in the city for a news agency in the 1930s and returns to Hong Kong this week to share her secrets on longevity on Sunday at the Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po.

The woman often referred to as the Mother Theresa of Singapore will be speaking as part of Elderly Health Day 2011, organised by the Hong Kong Health Care Association on Ageing.

Hsu was born in 1898 in Shantou , Guangdong province, during the Qing dynasty and moved to Penang when she was 16.

She finished high school at a convent in Penang, where her mother worked as a cleaner.

During the second world war she quit her job as a secretary and bookkeeper and went to Chongqing as a volunteer.

At the age of 47 her career took another turn - she decided to become a nurse and trained in Britain, where she worked for the next decade.

In the 1950s, Hsu moved back to Malaysia to be with her mother, and in 1961 she moved to Singapore to join her elder sister.

In Singapore, Hsu started a non-governmental organisation to help the aged and the sick. After she was asked to retire at the age of 83, she founded another organisation to provide food, clothing and money to those in need.

On the website for the Heart to Heart welfare group, Hsu describes her philosophy as: 'The world is my home, all living beings are my family, selfless service is my religion.'

Doctors suggest that to stay healthy in old age, people in their 40s should start controlling their intake of salt, sugar and fat. They should exercise at least half an hour a week and quit smoking.

To slow deterioration of bodily function, they also suggest people eat more salmon, walnuts and blueberries and refrain from alcohol.