The “Spartacus” star penned an essay for Newsweek in 2008 when he was 91 extolling the virtues of his golden years.
“I am almost 92 years old,” he wrote. “When I tell people that I'm ‘living on the house's money,’ they laugh, and then I add, ‘I don't buy green bananas, they take too long to ripen.’ Humor helps longevity.”
The legendary actor, who was the father of Hollywood titan Michael Douglas and father-in-law of Catherine Zeta-Jones, did not discount the challenges faced by people as they age, specifically how low they can feel about themselves.
“As you get older you lose so many friends, you feel lonely, you get depressed. Depression is the greatest obstacle of old age,” he wrote.
Douglas wrote that he was depressed after he had a stroke in 1996. “I just wanted to lie in bed and do nothing,” he wrote until his wife, Anne, encouraged him to focus on speech therapy. Ultimately, he came to realize that lending a hand to other people in need was therapeutic.
“Depression is caused by thinking too much about yourself. Try to think of others, try to help them. You will be amazed how that lessens your depression. That satisfaction is priceless,” he wrote.
Douglas also pointed out how priorities change when time appears to no longer be on your side.
“The ticking of a clock makes you aware of and appreciate the time you have with your children and grandchildren,” he wrote. “You wonder how they will deal with the problems they face after you are gone. You want to do what you can to make it easier for them and for younger generations.”
Douglas also revealed he enjoyed a renewed sense of romance in his later years. He and Anne had been married since 1954.
“The greatest dividend to old age is the discovery of the true meaning of love,” he wrote. “When I was younger my sense of love was not very deep. I was too involved with my career.
"Growing older brought me closer to my wife. It was like looking at her for the first time. I got to know who she was, and she really got to know me. Now I am much more romantic than I was years ago, when so much of my life was spent portraying other characters on the screen.”