MY GOD! I’M SEVENTY YEARS OLD! – Mon Dieu, j’ai soixante-dix ans!
Three years ago, after practising medicine for more than four decades, I retired to a little town in Provence**. It’s great living
in glorious countryside among the French in what the local tourist office calls, “un climat tonique”.
Visiting the doctor
The other day I visited my doctor to discuss the results of a series of routine tests, I was in good spirits, I’d peeked at them and they were as good as normal, especially for one who likes to indulge year-round in the local delights.
Seventy years young
“Eh bien”, said he, “Your liver functions are a little ‘aggressif’, your blood
sugar is still normal but rising and you have gained five kilos since you came here.” Alas, he was right. “But,” he went on, “you are only seventy, you are not eighty, you are not old, do something about it, you know what to do.”
Too right, I’d been preaching the same message for years and I left his ‘cabinet’ with those sweet words, “you are seventy, you are not old,” ringing in my ears. And it’s true, these days seventy is not old, it’s not
the time to sit by the fire with your feet up, it’s the time to look to the future, it’s the time to develop a my-god-I’m-seventy strategy.
Seven steps to keeping fit and healthy in your seventies
Obvious, follow the doctor’s advice, lose a bit of
weight, take some exercise and reduce the, how did he put it… “alimentation excessif.”
When looking in the mirror I will not dwell on the hair sprouting out of my ears and nose, the bags under
my eyes and the face that looks like my father’s, I will not regard with dismay the brown spots appearing on the backs of my hands, the skin that’s thinned, the prominent veins and the universal wrinkles. I will positively ignore these trapping
of antiquity. Perhaps like Dracula I should ban all mirrors and, hey, didn’t he have a sure recipe for immortality? Alas, not a practical solution. But I have to admit that there are some pretty nifty looking maidens hereabouts and we do have lots of
brilliant moonlit nights
Keep reading and take action on all the news about life prolonging things, like aspirin reduces the incidence of heart attacks, cancers of the mouth oesophagus and colon, so take a small
daily dose; fibre reduces the risk of colon cancer so start the day with a bowl of high fibre cereal, drink coffee, they say it helps prevent cirrhosis of the liver (does this mean that I can up the intake of Côtes du Rhône?) and eating an orange
or tangerine a day diminishes the risk of lung cancer by 30%. Whether these are truly ingredients for “la vie prolongée” in the individual may need more confirmation… but meanwhile there’s no harm in taking them.
Keep the brain active. A recent study in New York showed that elderly people who stimulated their brains were 75% less
likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Do crosswords, learn a language, develop new hobbies and above all socialize.
Keep cheerful! Another recent study has shown that the part of the brain concerned with happiness
can stimulate the immune system to work harder. People who are depressed get more colds, colds lead to bronchitis and worse. Part of keeping happy is to have plenty of friends, this means more effort on your part to make new ones and keep old ones. Happiness
is also helped along by being of service to others. The father of a friend of mine at the age of ninety was delivering meals-on-wheels to youngsters aged seventy; he died recently just short of his century.
your house as accident-proof as possible. Avoid ladders, step ladders, loose carpets, ill-fitting footwear, poor illumination, have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, make sure your locks are secure. Make sure your house is warm in the winter and cool in
the summer. Don’t smoke, it’s never too late to give up. Smoking not only rots your brain, your heart, your lungs and your arteries it’s the commonest cause of accidental fires.
France, France has 40,000 centenarians and the number is rising year on year.
** Since I wrote this little article I have lived a further eight years in Provence. It was originally published on the internet, sold to a French Property company and attached to their publicity. I received a magnificent fee of 20 euros (about £16)…
but that was the first time I had been paid for writing.I still have the crumpled and grubby 20 euro note. Over my medical career I had a large number of articles published in learned medical journals, but they attracted kudos only; columns in the Dubai
local newspapers during the eighteen years I lived and worked in the Persian Gulf provided propaganda for my clinic. Apart from degenerative problems in my seventies, hip replacements and back surgery I have survived and will be entering my ninth decade
with confidence. I followed my advice for the seventies, it should be valid for the eighties.