Health Check Podcast: Why your brain cells can still grow from the age of 40

Professor Kua Ee Heok (far left), our guest for this 100th episode, speaks to ST's senior health correspondent Joyce Teo (second from the right), on ageing and what we can do about it. Behind are podcast editor Ernest Luis and producer Eden Soh. PHOTO: TEO TONG KAI

Synopsis: Every first and third Wednesday of the month, The Straits Times helps you make sense of health matters that affect you. This is also our 100th episode since the first ST podcast episode was published in mid-2018 featuring then-Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (link further below).

Singapore has just launched an updated action plan for successful ageing to help Singaporeans live life to the fullest as they age. At the launch, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who helms the Ministerial Committee on Ageing called ageing “the most significant social development in Singapore”. It is estimated that by 2030, one in four people here will be 65 and above. More seniors will also be living alone.

In this episode, ST senior health correspondent Joyce Teo speaks with Professor Kua Ee Heok, the Tan Geok Yin Professor in psychiatry and neuroscience at the National University of Singapore. He’s also the vice-chairman of the Mind Science Centre, an academic research centre at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, under the National University Health System.

They discuss what we can do about ageing and dementia.

Prof Kua has published 370 research papers and 35 books on mental health, ageing, stress, and addiction. His first novel, ‘Listening to Letter from America’ is used in a course on anthropology at Harvard University.

In the episode, Prof Kua spoke about a Jurong study and mentioned the Letter from America programme. The Jurong ageing study is a 10-year study on positive ageing and dementia prevention. It started in 2013 with the aim of preventing and alleviating symptoms of depression and dementia in the elderly residents of Jurong.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:01 Why is ageing now viewed more negatively?

7:08 The mental aspect of ageing

11:14 Debunking the ageing myth

16:02 How to age happily

Listen to our first ST podcast in mid-2018 with then-Health Minister Gan Kim Yong: On war against diabetes, his love for chicken rice, healthy habits -

Produced by: Joyce Teo (, Ernest Luis and Eden Soh

Edited by: Eden Soh

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