The beloved M*A*S*H star will receive the Life Achievement Award at this year's SAG Awards

By Julie Jordan
January 17, 2019 10:00 AM
John Nowak/Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.

Alan Alda is in no hurry to slow down.

The veteran actor, 82, who reigned on TV for 11 years in the iconic role of womanizing Korean War surgeon Hawkeye Pierce on CBS’s hit series M*A*S*H, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost four years ago. Now he’s set to receive the Life Achievement Award at the upcoming SAG Awards on Jan. 27.

“I’m busy,” Alda tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “I do occasionally do nothing and sit around. But I believe in doing everything in moderation, including moderation. So far it’s working.”

CBS Photo Archive/Getty

At home in New York City with his wife of 61 years, Arlene, Alda has applied his secret to life: “Adapt, adjust, revise,” he says. “Because the only thing you can be sure of is that everything is going to change.”

In 2015, Arlene noticed Alda’s arms weren’t really moving when he walked. And he began acting out his dreams while asleep. Both were early signs of Parkinson’s. Though he admits the prognosis — which he revealed publicly in July 2018 — was at first “scary,” Alda immediately began educating himself on the disease.

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He also began an exercise regimen that included boxing, a version of tai chi and marching to the compositions of John Philip Sousa.

“My life hasn’t changed much,” says the actor. “I just applied my curiosity to it. I’m constantly reading and trying to figure out the best approaches. So far it’s really interesting. I think it’s helped me understand a little better that everybody has something they’re coping with.”

  • For more of Alda’s exclusive interview, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Throughout it all, Alda insists he is most grateful to have Arlene, with whom he has three daughters, by his side.

“We still experience a kind of puppy love,” he says. As for what might be left on his bucket list, the grandfather of eight —  who was most recently seen in Showtime’s Ray Donovan and hosts his podcast Clear+Vivid — strives to just live in the moment.

“I really have never made plans for the future,” Alda adds. “My life is more of an improvisation. I just try to make the best of what’s in front of me.”

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