Advice from a health writer turning 80

Brody Jane 1

Jane Brody — who’s been writing a health and medical column for the New York Times for 45 years — notched up her 80th birthday this month. Recently she shared her secret to a happy and vibrant old age.

I wrote about her in this blog in 2018 because although she cycles, hikes and swims she was diagnosed with sarcopenia i.e. the loss of muscle and strength, which can be a precursor to falls and frailty.

Her experience should be a wake-up to any of us who think that a bit of walking is enough to counter the effects of ageing. She does far more than that and still had problem.

While I often don’t agree with her views, I do applaud her proactive approach to getting older.

As she says, Nature will usually take pretty good care of you for about half a century, but after that it’s up to you. A reminder that post-50 we can’t take our health for granted.

She acknowledges that 80-year-olds were lucky to grow up before processed food was prevalent and when eating out was an occasional treat.

But she also rightly observes that exercise and nutrition aren’t enough, and that attitude, perspective and motivation are also hugely important to a healthy and fulfilling life.

She has few regrets — studying French instead of Spanish in high school, not learning to speed-read and not seeing orangutans in the wild. Arguably, if that’s your list of regrets you’ve done well.

If she ever retires she wants to do volunteer work with young children, and anyone who saw the recently-screened ABC TV series on Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds will appreciate why.

Finally, her secret to a happy and vibrant old age? Strive to do what you love for as long as you can. Presumably she’ll be churning out those columns for a while yet.

 

Photo Source: janebrody.com. This is not a recent photo but it’s the one she uses on her website

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