The last thing Alan Alda is going to do is let his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis get him down. In an exclusive new interview with Closer Weekly, he says he’s going to continue doing the things he loves, because life with the nervous system disorder is not that bad.
“As long as I’m having fun and doing things that make a difference, I see no reason to slow down,” the 84-year-old actor says in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “In my head, I’m still a kid learning to do the best I can in whatever I do. That, to me, that is what makes life fun, so I’m going to do that as much as I can.”
To halt the progression of his Parkinson’s disease, Alan has taken up sports. “I box two or three times a week, play tennis, juggle, march and do tai chi,” he reveals. “It keeps me in good shape.”
Doing those activities also makes the M*A*S*H star very happy and it keeps his mind off of his medical condition. “It’s a common reaction to get depressed, and it’s really not necessary,” he explains. “It can get really bad, but your life isn’t over. You don’t die from it — you die with it.”
Alan’s optimistic attitude is exactly what he needs to keep himself in good health. After he nearly died in Chile 15 years ago from an intestinal blockage, he says, “Waking up alive is a really nice thing.” That’s why he sees every new day as a “bonus.”
“I don’t know how much of a bonus I’ve got left. But I’m really looking forward to it,” the six-time Golden Globe winner says.
As for his career, Alan doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. Giving up what he loves to do just doesn’t seem appealing to him. “Sometimes I think of Lionel Barrymore, who acted for years toward the end of his career in a wheelchair,” he notes about the late actor.
“I don’t assume there’s an afterlife,” he adds. “That would spoil the element of surprise.”
For more on Alan Alda, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!