How to make the most of life at 70

Moira Petty / 21 July 2015

The 72-year-old star of Sky’s hit show 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy, Nancy Ashmawy, gives her great tips for living life to the full at 70.

A retired nurse and grandmother from Dublin, Nancy Ashmawy become an unlikely global icon for older people in the Sky series 50 Ways To Kill  Your Mammy. Together with her Irish TV and radio personality son Baz Ashmawy - himself no stranger to extreme challenges, from the travel  series How Low Can You Go? - she carried out a dizzying range of stunts. 

Tumbling out of planes, wrestling alligators, stunt driving and zip-lining over a forest were just some of the challenges the 72-year-old faced. So with a second series of 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy about to air, who better than Nancy to give a few tips on getting the best out of life at 70? 

Get online 

I’m not great with my iPad. It’s all a bit hit and miss with me. I’m always threatening to go down and enrol in a computer class. But I have mastered the basics and it’s really marvellous, a whole new world.   50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy with Baz and wanted to look up something about the country we’re in. 

I was very ignorant about Japan but learnt all sorts online. I’m always surprised about the amount of information that’s out there, maybe too much, but it’s wonderful. Even if you just want to cook something, to make up a sauce, it will give you all the ingredients, so practical and quick. 

Find out more about using the internet

Get fit 

I try to walk every day.  I think it’s very important that you get up, get out and walk, even if it’s only to the shops instead of taking the  car.  It’s easy, makes you feel good and costs nothing. If you don’t move, you stiffen up. I’ve friends who love going to the gym or they go  swimming. There are so many places you can go swimming and there are concessions for the over-60s. There are lots of things you can do to stay fit so there’s no excuse. 

Get more fitness tips

Get socialising 

You have to go out there and make the effort yourself.  No one is going to come looking for you.  In Ireland and in the UK as well, I’m sure,  there are clubs that you can join. They go away on breaks and on day trips. I think it’s very important to have that social life but you must ensure you’re surrounded by people who are positive.  

There’s no point in being with people who are complaining all the time that they’re too old and they can’t do this or that, because gradually you’ll begin to feel old yourself. I always try to be positive and that spreads to other people, and it will stop you being scared or lonely. 

Find out more about how to make friends

Spend some money 

Now, I’ve always been careful with money, but at my age I like to treat myself now and then. Go out for the evening, have a nice meal and enjoy it. Book your holiday and it will give you something to look forward to. Hanging on to every penny isn’t always the answer. Spend a little on lovely experiences and you’ll enjoy the memory for ever. 

Face your fears 

You have to face fears.  One example with me is that I never liked water. When we were filming and had to get on to a boat, my mind was  churning with worries and I was saying: ‘Oh, goodness me.’ But the next time, I just walked on the boat and didn’t pass any remark. Fear is a  powerful emotion, though, and I understand how difficult it is. As someone who doesn’t like swimming, I’ve had people say, ‘Oh for goodness  sake just get in and put your head under the water. What are you afraid of?’ but it’s only you who can feel the fear. You feel grand, though,  and get a little bit of extra confidence when you overcome it. 

Try a new hobby 

This is the time to do something that you’ve wanted to do for ages, or something that you used to do and enjoyed.  Now I can’t draw a line  straight but I love art and I’m determined not to say, ‘Oh, sure, I’d be hopeless.’ That’s something I have to overcome and say, ‘I’ll have a go.’  And I will - I will try some art classes and I might even have swimming lessons! 

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Keep up with young people 

Surround yourself with young people - your grandchildren or your neighbour’s. Baz’s older children are great at chatting to me and saying: ‘Do  you know such and such a band?’ I’ll say: ‘No, I’ve never heard of them,’ and they’ll proceed to tell me who they are and how they became famous and things like that. I think that’s great. Younger people keep you young because they give off this great energy. Very young children can make you feel like a kid yourself. 

When my two-year-old granddaughter visited recently, we were in hysterics out in the garden blowing bubbles. It’s only a simple thing really, laughing and playing, but it makes you feel young and carefree. 

Read our interview with Nancy and Baz Ashmawy in the August 2015 issue of Saga Magazine. Subscribe to the print edition or download the digital edition for this and more great articles delivered direct to you every month

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