Geri-Antics: Smile awhile

Published 4:40 pm Monday, October 24, 2022

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By Anne Carmichael


If you’re like so many of us these days, you likely find yourself in search of your “happy.” Whereas a smile used to light up your face regularly when you were younger, you now have to work at staying in a positive frame of mind.

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Forced isolation over the last three years has provided us with more time than we ever asked for or needed for introspection.

When the floodgates were lifted, as younger people ran willy-nilly back into their active and productive lives, many seniors realized the sands in our hourglass had diminished to a few precious grains. We wondered how best to use the time that remained.

I’m an author and an avid reader, so of course, I’m interested in what type of stories interest and comfort seniors.

I find that the past can be a solace and a source of knowledge and guidance that we can share with the next generation.

We love true heroes. Not fictional heroes…but real flesh and blood heroes who have positively impacted our world, such as Anne Frank, Mahatma Gandhi, or Florence Nightingale. Seniors tend to gravitate to historical and biographical novels because we can readily see the outcome of the actions of lives already lived.

We find ourselves exploring the psyches of aging fictional characters, both in the written word and on film, and compare them to ourselves.

What made John Gustafson and Max Goldman (“Grumpy Old Men”) and Aurora Greenway (“Terms of Endearment”) tick? Do I sound like that? Could that be how others see me?

Perhaps as writers strive to analyze the mind of an aging character, it helps us understand our evolving temperament. What we discover about their makeup might help us to fix our shortcomings…or at least laugh at them.

I’ve noticed that technology is also available to put a smile on a geriatric face.

Have you seen the self-cleaning sheets? No, they don’t strip themselves from the bed, nor do they walk to the laundry room and jump inside the washer. They’re made of some sort of silver-infused material that kills odor-causing bacteria and somehow regulates temperature.

Don’t ask me the scientific whys and wherefores of this miraculous invention. I’m just here to put a smile on your face, remember? So let’s look at the possible applications for the geriatric demographic.

Temperature control could mean that the female geriatric population might get some relief from menopausal and post-menopausal night sweats. And guys, what if you never had to flip the pillow again in search of the cooler side?

Old People Smell is real. It’s a thing. The cause of Old People Smell has something to do with a change in your chemical makeup as your organs begin to deteriorate with age, but that’s above my pay grade, so Google it for more information.

Oh, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re over 60, you’ve likely found yourself searching for the source of whatever is making your home smell like the intake bins at the Goodwill store. Or maybe you’ve noticed your kids and grands not-so-tactfully avoiding hugs and kisses from you.

You faithfully shower morning and night and use all manner of disguise by way of scented soaps, lotions, and potions, but it’s unmistakable…we’re slowly dying, and we smell like roadkill to the rest of the population. Odor-control sheets could be a solution to Old People Smell by killing bacteria on sloughed-off dead skin cells.

Well, enough of that! On to a more pleasant topic — entertainment.

There is now a thing called a Boomerang Ball. It lights up like a UFO and floats through the air, spinning, and whirring. At first, it appears to be aimed at the target to which you’ve thrown it. Then suddenly, like the boomerang for which it was named, it changes course and returns to the person who threw it. Fun for all ages, but especially for seniors who no longer have the time or energy to play fetch.

I never liked golf because I quickly tired of hunting for the ball after I smacked it. I know in golf there’s a rule about letting the ball lie once it lands, but for those of us opposed to the seeking part of the game, perhaps a boomerang ball with a lighted display might be the bee’s knees.

All this talk of technological advances got me to thinking…what if in addition to “smart” devices for teens, adults, and children, there was a device explicitly geared to enhance the mood and boost the confidence of the geriatric set.

Say, for example, Alexa, the voice-activated assistant that plays music, answers questions, and searches the internet. First, we’d change her name to Mildred. Mildred is someone with whom we could better identify.

Mildred would answer questions such as “Why did I come into this room?’ ‘Where did I put my glasses (or teeth)?’ or ‘Mildred, what day of the week is this?’

Throughout the day, Mildred would stroke your ego whenever you walked into the room. She’d say little things such as, “You look years younger today. Did you do something different with your hair? Have you been working out?”

There would be a link between Mildred and your other electronic devices, so if you haven’t received any phone calls or texts or your doorbell hasn’t rung in weeks, Mildred would automatically send a friendly reminder to your friends and loved ones to check on you or visit you. Then she’d initiate a friendly little chat session of her own to alleviate loneliness.

Happiness is right around the corner. We have to look for it.

Find what brings joy to your heart and a smile to your face, and embrace it.