"I know what it is to grow old, and I feel deeply the desperation of those who face old age alone, who cannot get to a doctor, and whose families cannot or do not know how to care for them. The pain of poor health is so much worse when you are old and frail."

Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun

Founder's Story


In her lifetime, Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun was an exemplary daughter, wife, mother and daughter-in-law. Within the ambit of those traditional roles, she embraced a progressive outlook which encouraged inquiry, critical thinking and openness to new solutions – values that enabled her to be her husband’s confidante, an entrepreneur in her own right, and a socially engaged senior as she grew older.

Having lived among older relatives to whom she was also caregiver, she empathised deeply with those growing old with little recourse to help. At age 86, in honour of her father and father-in-law, she established the Tsao Foundation in Singapore to enhance the quality of life of the older person.

Her concern for under-resourced seniors was matched by an acute insight into the common aspirations of every person to age at home, in the community among friends and family, and to have information, choice and the exercise of self-determination.

Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun’s views and goals are embodied in the Foundation’s activities under the leadership of her grand-daughter, Dr Mary Ann Tsao. Over the last 18 years, Tsao Foundation and its Hua Mei community-based health and social services have earned a reputation for their elder-centric services and programmes, and for distinguished standards of innovation, practice and collaboration in aged care.

For her service and dedication to seniors, Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun was honoured at a global conference sponsored by the United Nations in Montreal, in September 1999. The occasion was the first UN Year of the Older Person – she was 94.

Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun passed away in 2001, but her vision and values live on as the Foundation’s enduring guide.