Growing old can be a chore, but it sure beats the alternative. The good news is that, with the correct attitude, you can stay active well into your seventies. That’s the message of the latest episode of RTÉ's zippy science series, 10 Things To Know About (RTÉ One, Monday, 8.30pm).
In Wicklow, Jonathan McCrea meets triathlon enthusiasts John Darcy and Anne Hudson who are in their 70s. Hudson has run in 43 consecutive Dublin Marathons. Together, she and Darcyregularly participate in endurance races. “We feel more alive when we’re doing things,” Hudson says. “I do believe people are more capable of things than they realise. Start in a small way, and you’ll build up.”
The format of the show involves relaying 10 nuggets of information. But that’s just a gimmick for a programme that could have been called Nationwide Does Science. The importance of a healthy diet is emphasised by Dr Sinéad McCarthy, a research nutritionist at Teagasc, who says what we eat becomes more important after we turn 40 – and that our “six a day” fruit and veg should be seven (no fruit pastilles don’t count).
Then it’s over to Melbourne, where Irish researcher Caoileann Murphy discusses the importance of building muscle in old age. Back in Ireland, there is time for an item on failing eyesight. Dorothy Coughlan tells presenter Kathriona Devereux about her age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It can’t be cured, she says. But it can certainly be managed.
“I value my independent too much,” Coughlan says. “If I lost my sight, it would mean going into care.” There’s only one queasy note. A section titled Curious Chronicles features Dr Fergus McAuliffe walking along a beach, recalling the story of Oisín and his time in Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth.
He then pivots into a tutorial on stem cells. What he says makes perfect sense, but the framing of McAuliffe strutting along a shoreline and through a windswept field is portentous – turn the sound down, and he could be advertising a moody new fragrance for men. Otherwise, this is a fun 30 minutes about a subject with which we will all have to reckon, sooner or later.