January 14

Dick Van Dyke on Aging

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

One of my presents this past Christmas was a book on aging that was authored by Dick Van Dyke. The gift came from our youngest daughter, Jessica, who noticed that I had posted information on Facebook about the Dustbowl Revival video featuring Dick that was released in 2015.

Dick, who turned 90 years of age just over a month ago, is probably best known for his roles in Mary Poppins, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Diagnosis Murder.

He and his brother, Jerry, grew up in Danville, Illinois, which is home of the Bowman Estates affordable assisted living community that we manage.

Dick Van Dyke Keep MovingHis book “Keep Moving” is filled with stories, insights and advice about growing older.

Dick, who lays claim to instigating the Gray Rights Movement, strongly believes that “life should be lived with enthusiasm” no matter your age and that old age should be “revered, admired and respected.”  We should value the experience and wisdom of older adults.

We also should be holding up older adults who continue to be vital and active as role models, he says.

One of the keys to successfully aging that Dick cites in the book stems from a health issue that arose when he was in his early 40s and working on the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie. The diagnosis was severe arthritis, and the doctor’s prognosis was that he would be using a walker, and possibly in a wheelchair, before he turned 50.

His book’s title “Keep Moving” is based on his defiant reaction to the prognosis. Despite the pain, he broke into a dance and says he hasn’t stopped moving since. He cites it as his secret to “staying youthful.”

As geriatrician David Fisher, M.D., notes in his book “How to Keep Mom (and Yourself) Out of a Nursing Home,” the muscles in our body are designed to move. They begin to shrink if they are not moving. No matter what the reason might be, the odds of needing nursing home care increase dramatically “when a person stops moving like they used to.”

Dick also emphasizes the importance of family and friends, music, books, having a sense of humor, and staying “involved with the world” and with other people.

To fully appreciate all that Dick has to say about aging, his optimistic views, and his attitudes about acting and feeling your age no matter your age, pick up a copy of “Keep Moving.”

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