Image credits: Write Editions

Colours of Ageing

30 Years of Research on the Mental Health of the Singapore Elderly

Kua Ee Heok


Write Editions


“Each of the eight chapters of this slim volume is a testimony of the wisdom and humanity of the author, who has brought together memories of a time, scientific facts and sunny optimism all too often missing from writing about old age, about history and about science.”

Professor Norman Sartorius

Former Director of Mental Health, World Health Organization

Past President, World Psychiatric Association

“(Prof Kua) trail-blazingly combines Westernscientific methods with Easternvalues… Western medicine continues to search for the illusory big-pharma magic bullet. (Kua’s) revolutionary formula is social change: creating a culture that encourages healthy eating, physical and mental activity, fostering the arts, and, via green urbanism, reconnecting with nature.”

Professor Jeremy Holmes

School of Psychology, University of Exeter

in The British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 213Issue 3, September 2018, pp. 562 – 563

doi: 10.1192/bjp.2018.51

The three-score-years-and-ten belief is now obsolete. People are living longer and better, well into their 80s and 90s. It is an indisputable fact that not all elderly people become demented but ageism still permeates subtly.

Ageing is not all grey. Elderly people are often portrayed in grim statistics as a faceless population. This book is not about arid facts but explores the mind of a generation who survived the Second World War and witnessed the dramatic rise of Singapore from third world to first. One that can be defined through these defining characteristics: an undefeated mind and creativity.

“This book is both inspiring and moving. Science, art and the human touch are woven together in a journey of over 30 years – to portray the multiple aspects of ageing. It is a book about ageing and about Life.”

Professor Helen Chiu

President, Hong Kong Psychogeriatric Association

President, International Psychogeriatric Association

Past President, Pacific-Rim College of Psychiatrists

The 30 years of research on the mental health of the Singapore elderly is a tapestry of myriad colours of people from different ethnicities, cultures and social hierarchies. The colours of ageing are the myriad of cultures and ethnicities of the Singapore elderly whose forebears came from different geographical regions.

The book documents the social transformation of medical research, from epidemiological surveys to interventional studies of translational relevance, with the tagline ‘preventive medicine in the community by the community for the community’. 

The author’s research shows the potential of preventing dementia and depression through psychosocial community-based interventions. The programme enlisted elderly volunteers, who are trained to organise and teach the programme to other elderly participants. This group of new-olds are valuable Human Resources – an asset that could benefit the community.

A distillate of five epidemiological studies, this book is written from a longitudinal perspective, viewed through the lens of time by a doctor who conducted the research with his team. It will interest not only health professionals and policy makers but also the elderly, family caregiver and young people – just about everyone!

“An excellent and thoughtful book that is full of Asian wisdom and new knowledge on ageing.”

Emeritus Professor Naotaka Shinfuku

Founding President, Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations

This book was written in hopes to fill the lacunae of knowledge on ageing in Singapore and Asia. It will enable both youth and elderly people to have a better or more positive perspective of growing old and… even older.

“Professor Kua Ee Heok has given us a poetic and profound work. It is a scientific memoir written in his characteristic literary style that brings a new vision of ageing. He shows us the caring and preventive possibilities when the work of the community is done with the community and by the community.”

Professor Helen Herrman

Professor of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne

President, International Association of Women’s Mental Health

President, World Psychiatric Association