Sunday, November 26, 2023

Second childhoods.

mitchdhutchinson | Deposit Photos
It's a holiday weekend here in the US, and that means the media are publishing a lot of evergreen stories -- features that can run any time, and in fact may have been written a week or two before they show up on your favorite news outlet.

One of the themes this year appears to be keeping old folks entertained.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a feature by Rob LaZebnik, who's a co-producer and writer for "The Simpsons", about how he's trying to avoid being boring, now that he's past 60. His friends and co-workers had heard all of his best stories multiple times, so he decided to try a bunch of stuff so he'd have new stories to tell. Several of the activities on his list I've already done ("set up a table at an autograph convention" -- check; "made a shirt" -- check; "bid at an art auction" -- check; "cooked dinner" -- what kind of rarefied life does this guy lead that he's never cooked dinner before?), but others I have zero interest in. "Attend a megachurch", for example, is not, nor will it ever be, on a challenge list of mine. (The rest of his list included going to a leather gay bar, taking a sound bath, making an announcement on an airplane, and going on a police ride-along.)

I suppose the idea is to come up with your own challenge list. But if that sounds like too much work -- and let's face it, at the end of a four-day weekend, almost everything sounds like too much work -- then toymakers are coming to our rescue. They're aiming at the senior-citizen crowd by retconning classic games and developing new ones. New "Generations" versions of games like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit have bigger game pieces and larger fonts (which makes me wonder if there are ADA standards for such things, but I digress). These versions are also supposed to allow grandparents to play games more easily with their grandkids; according to the Associated Press, "the answer to a question in Trivial Pursuit about fitness can be Jack LaLanne or Zumba, depending on the player’s age." 

Jack LaLanne? Just how old an audience are these people aiming at? I would have said Jane Fonda, or even Richard Simmons. Jack LaLanne, really??

The idea of old folks buying toys out of nostalgia isn't new (it's called a second childhood for a reason...), but toymakers noticed an uptick during the pandemic, when isolated older adults began "gravitating toward plush animals and robotic pets as companions." (This clearly does not include me, as Flora is neither plush nor robotic.)

These toymakers are all benevolence, of course, only wanting to help this aging demographic's quality of life: the games give elder folks a way to interact with their grandkids. And puzzles keep your mind sharp, right?

Eh, not so much. Reseachers have found that while playing a lot of puzzles makes older folks good at doing those specific puzzles, it doesn't do much of anything for the types of skills that would help them keep working longer, for example, or allow them to live independently. Skills like, say, cooking dinner.

As for interacting with the grandkids, it seems to me that the prospect of playing a board game with Gramps wouldn't be much of an enticement to the cellphone-and-video-game generation. The robotic pet, though -- that might be a better draw.


Oh, speaking of retcons, I should update you on the pumpkin pudding tweak that I mentioned last week. Substituting brown "sugar" Swerve for regular brown sugar worked great. 

However, we are not going to talk about the recipe for keto pecan pie I found online and how I tried to tweak that today with the ingredients I had on hand. Nope! Not discussing it!


These moments of bloggy amusement have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!


Anonymous said...

I remember Jack Lalane — he had a dog (white German Shepherd) on the show.

Lynne Cantwell said...

I have no memory of that at all -- and I would have remembered the dog, lol. Clearly we were not fitness freaks at our house...