Attitude Toward Aging with Marsha Hunt

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Marsha Hunt, star of stage and screen and a social activist, will discuss attitudes towards aging and how they can affect your personal health.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we are discussing Attitude Toward Aging, with Marsha Hunt.

In Hollywood's "Golden Age" of motion pictures, Marsha Hunt was first signed by Paramount Pictures at 17, and within days, was cast in romantic leading roles opposite the likes of John Wayne. Her film career covers some 62 motion pictures, such as Pride and Prejudice, Blossoms in the Dust, Panama Hattie, The Human Comedy, Thousands Cheer, A Letter for Evie, Music for Millions, The Valley of Decision, None Shall Escape, Smash Up, Carnegie Hall, and Blue Denim. Starting in the 1950s, Miss Hunt has been a Trustee/Board Member of numerous charities and foundations, devoting herself to concerns such as peace, population, poverty and pollution. Twenty-five years went to advocacy of the United Nations, giving hundreds of talks on its Specialized Agencies, and producing programs involving the talents of Bing Crosby, Paul Newman, David Niven, and Harry Belafonte. Miss Hunt founded the Valley Mayors' Fund for the Homeless. She remains active in local and global affairs.

Moderator: Marsha, welcome to WebMD Live.

Moderator: Why do people have such negative views on aging?

Hunt: I wish I knew; it seems such a waste of energy and time. When we get into our upper years, it means there isn't that much time left. Now is the time to do what matters to us, and to make use of what we can. Most of us have more time towards the end of our lifespan, and it seems to me, that by our senior years, we should have figured out what we would most like to do with our lives, once we have the time to do it. It would be so smart to prepare for that, and set the stage, so that we can really accomplish and explore what it is that we always wished to do, and not let old trivial things get in the way of it. Really, maybe budget the days so we can be sure to turn that energy and interest into whatever it may be, and then it's such a rewarding experience, and something we put off in the busy years of raising a family, earning a living... now is the rewarding, golden age. I really do find these years Golden.

Moderator: Do you sometimes have to look at your drivers license to actually believe that you've lived this long?

Hunt: Yeah. Age baffles me; I don't know why people are embarrassed or even ashamed by whatever number of years they've wrapped up. What age is, is one thing that is nobody's fault. It's a fact of the accumulated time we've been around, and what it says is that "I'm still here." Look at what I've survived, and I'm still around. It's a time of triumph, and it's an accumulation that I think should be celebrated.

Spassmachen_WebMD: I wonder if there is life after work. How does one keep busy after retirement?

Hunt: That's pretty much what I was talking about a moment ago -- if one has been tied to work and self-support or family... all those earlier years, there must have been things that we wished we had time to do, or to find out about. Now is the time. It's perfectly true that as we get a lot older, certain things shut down, or stiffen up, or fail us. My eyes and ears are not what they used to be, and I'm having to adjust to that. It seems to me, that we can explore... if we should be even shut-ins and not be able to get out and around, there are such things to do at home, that there was never time to be home before! In the arts, music... a lot of people sit at their television sets and watch whatever waves over them. TV can be rewarding, but it isn't always. It isn't involving us, or using ourselves... but how about taking up a musical instrument for the first time? Or sketching, painting, or needlework? Anything that uses our own imagination, creativity... and something else occurred to me - I think there is a value in handing down some sort of record of our own life, and while it may not be thrilling or terribly romantic... there are still high points in our lives that our families, if no one else, would be interested in finding out about. Why did we do certain things? Or fail to do them? that maybe affected other people or our own lives. If people with computers could just sit down and type out into their computer the things they want to explain or recall, that might be useful to their families and children... or if they're not good at typing or don't see well enough, there's always the tape recorder. Talk into it as if you were talking to a friend, and recall things. I did a book called The Way We Wore that was a record of the 30s and 40s, and the clothing... and once I started recalling that time half a century ago, it's an amazing thing. It's like pulling the cork from a bottle, and out fizzles all kinds of memories and things you hadn't thought of. If people start recalling the high points or the decision points of their lives, that'll all start coming back and they can make a very vivid report of it. That's work worth handing down -- we're getting more interested in our roots, and the people who have gone before. And why not do that, if nothing else? I have a friend who has been in a wheelchair all her adult life, and it has not stopped her. She's amazing -- a travel agent and has gone all over the world, even if she had to be carried on a stretcher, even to see the Himalaya mountains. She's a great cook, and she has fashioned her kitchen so she can reach everything from the wheelchair, and she gets great meals together. There's very little out of reach for us if we just use our heads and get inventive, and that wonderful song of Johnny Mercer's "Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative," and it makes everything a lot more fun.

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