May 27, 2020
At 84, Alan Alda is a survivor — and he’s doing just fine during the current pandemic, riding out the storm at his home in Long Island, New York, with his wife of 63 years, Arlene, 87.
“I’m having a good time under the circumstances,” he tells the June/July issue of AARP the Magazine, shared exclusively with PEOPLE.
“I’ve found a lot of positive things. I’m very happy about some of the changes we’ve had to go through. For one thing, my wife Arlene is looking for ways to be creative during this time, so she’s gone back to painting and drawing, and she plays the piano every day and she’s experimenting with cooking.” He adds: “I haven’t eaten this well since the last epidemic.”
The actor and science buff, who was at a time best known for his years playing surgeon Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the hit show M*A*S*H, knows a thing or two about getting through tough times.
As a 7-year-old, he was diagnosed with polio and underwent six months of therapy that involved having scalding blankets wrapped around his limbs every hour. “It was hard on me,” he tells AARP. “It was harder, I think, on my parents, who couldn’t afford a nurse and had to torture me themselves. It’s always better to pay somebody to torture your kid.”
Decades later, in 2015, he discovered he had Parkinson’s disease. His reaction to the diagnosis? “I began to exercise a lot,” he says.
“A lot of people hear they have Parkinson’s and get depressed and panicky and don’t do anything, just hoping it’ll go away. It’s not going to, but you can hold off the worst symptoms. Movement helps: walking, biking, treadmills. But also specific things: I move to music a lot.”
He tells the magazine, “It’s not the end of the world when you get this diagnosis … ” Read more.