Aging Well Suzuki Style

David Suzuki takes us on a journey to learn how to live better and age well.
Available on CBC Gem

Aging Well Suzuki Style

Nature of Things

David Suzuki is 83 — that’s three years beyond the life expectancy for the average Canadian male. He’s the first to admit that he’s officially old and that he doesn’t want to live forever, but he’s also quick to point out that  “aging is not a disease … it’s just a natural part of life.”

While everyone would like a longer lifespan, David Suzuki is more interested in a longer “health-span” — he wants to stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.

In Aging Well Suzuki Style, a documentary from The Nature of Things, Suzuki takes viewers along on his journey to discover if he’s still alive and kicking because of the choices he’s made, or if he’s just been lucky with good genes. “I’m hoping to find out what’s working, what’s not, what I can do, and probably should have done to age well.”

Along the way, he meets scientists who put him through a battery of tests. He gets to play the role he thinks he was born to play – The Karate Kid – while learning a thing or two about his balance, and he becomes the “fall guy” when the floor pulled out from under him. Much to his own surprise, he manages to ace an impromptu political history test while walking, proving that his coordination and mental capacity at 83 are still intact.

Anna Maria Tremonti speaks to David Suzuki about growing old on her podcast 'More'

Suzuki takes author Carl Honoré for a walk, a man thirty years his junior. But their age difference is cancelled when Honoré wears an age-simulation suit, designed for health care providers to understand the limitations faced by many seniors. “I have never seen anything as dramatic as the conversion of this tall, good-looking guy …[is] literally reduced to this old man.”

We follow Suzuki as he ticks one special item off his bucket list — the construction of a treehouse for his grandson. During the 1950s, Suzuki spent eight years working in construction and the skills he learned back then still serve him today as he takes on the task with vigour. But back then, nobody wore ear protection on the job, and it was a costly mistake. When Suzuki gets his hearing tested, he learns that his exposure to loud noises has caused some hearing loss.

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In Aging Well Suzuki Style, we also meet a group of Canadian seniors who have one thing in common — they are all living life to the fullest. Their enthusiasm for life is infectious as they share with us their secrets for aging well.

Watch Aging Well Suzuki Style on The Nature of Things.