• Honor Blackman on growing old.

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    As part of Channel 5 News’s Growing Old In Britain series in November, actress Honor Blackman, 89, shares her views on old age. The British Gazette republishes it here.

    Growing old gracefully: by Honor Blackman:

    I think growing old in Britain is pretty good as long as you have loving, caring relatives or friends for support.

    I can’t say I’ve met anyone yet who actually enjoys getting old. OK, they may enjoy being fussed over in their dotage, but the inevitable aches and pains seem to limit many people’s capabilities which is sad.

    So why do so many people accept them?

    By all means get medication but really, the most important medicine is exercise and diet which can prevent or delay the onslaught of illnesses.

    Obesity is a classic example of what happens if you sit on a sofa and never walk or exercise.

    It seems that so many people just say ‘That’s it – I’m old, this happens’. And yet it isn’t necessarily so if you walk, eat well and do a hobby to keep yourself going. Of course you’ll decline if you do nothing.

    Diabetes is becoming a curse to this nation, largely due to rubbish diets, and I think we should ban all sorts of chippies and takeaways because they damage many people’s health.

    But what really astonishes me is the assumption that the NHS must give us treatment. One’s own housekeeping standards are never applied.

    People miss appointments, waste doctors’ time, all because we think that because we paid our national insurance the NHS is just there waiting for us. But if you add up all your contributions they probably cover just one big operation.

    And of course the NHS wastes money. I was appalled to find that a footstool and a raised lavatory seat given to me after my knee operation were thrown out. They said such things can’t be sterilised but I don’t believe it.

    We should all realise the NHS is like housekeeping – if you eat and drink too much, you are going to hit trouble. We should all do our best to help the NHS.

    The only real emergency I have ever had was dealt with by the NHS, not privately, and the staff were terrific.

    Now I’m sure some will say, ‘it’s all very well for you living in the area you live, but it’s not the same where I live’.

    But most councils offer some sort of exercise or dance classes to help you live healthily for longer. So don’t sit there like a lemon doing nothing. Make a contribution yourself.

    British Gazette comment: With the UK’s ageing population, the good sense talked by Honor Blackman is most welcome.

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