A doctor with years of experience in aging will be sharing his knowledge with Stratford audiences next week.

Dr Doug Wilson has worked as a medical and scientific consultant overseas and in New Zealand for many years, and is also the author of several successful children's books.

He is also in his 80s.

A couple of years ago he wrote a book, inspired by the longevity of his parents who lived to 97 and 99, to give practical advice to guide readers gently into their golden years.


"New Zealand has a lot of older people and that number will grow over the years. It is important people understand what aging means and how to take steps to ensure you stay in control of your life as you age."

Dr Wilson will be speaking at the Positive Ageing Forum on Thursday, February 27 and again on Friday at a Rural Women Health Forum to be held at the Shakee Pear Cafe in Stratford.

He says understanding aging is important for all ages.

"In the 1950s there were 70 tax payers to each pensioner. Now, if you take into consideration student debt, then you can't buy a home…and at the same time your tax is going up to pay the 'entitlement' pensioners – we can't afford it."

Dr Wilson says everyone can take steps to manage their own aging well.

"We are living longer nowadays. If you go back 50 years, people were dying in their 70s, now they are living a lot longer, so people need to plan for a longer retirement. That said, people also need to fight ageism in the workplace. Not everyone has to retire in their 60s."

He says car manufacturer BMW has successfully shown older people are still relevant in a workplace.

"In Germany, BMW worked with some previously retired engineers, adapting their production lines to suit the needs of an older workforce. The result is a workforce which is engaged, bringing a wealth of experience to their role. The older engineers actually perform better in terms of accuracy and reliability."


Everyone, says Dr Wilson, should make sure they exercise and follow a healthy diet when it comes to fighting the effects of aging.

"It is about looking after your own body and helping it stay healthy. Now we have so much technology and medicine has advanced so greatly, it is about identifying symptoms so they can be treated."

"Age comes with an increased risk of various diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, dementia and so on. To ensure healthy living it is imperative to identify things early so they can be adequately managed."

Everyone should have a purpose every day as well he says.

"It is important to have a purpose in order to get up out of bed each day. It doesn't have to be big, but by joining a social group or starting a hobby, it can give meaning and a reason to get up and do things."

While families are often now further apart geographically than they have been historically, this doesn't mean loneliness has to be a fact, he says.

"Technology is such that distance doesn't have to mean there is no communication. People can stay in touch in a variety of ways."

While aging can be frightening, it shouldn't be, says Dr Wilson.

"It is a wonderful time to be old in New Zealand. You can communicate with people in a variety of ways, you can choose entertainment on your computer, you can access a world online as well as in person.

"Also, a large number of studies from all over the world have shown that people over the age of 70, and well into their 90s, represent the happiest cohort of individuals in a society. So we all need to take steps to ensure we can live long, healthy and happy lives."