Geri-Antics: New Phffft Bit Smartwatch for active seniors

Published 2:00 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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By Anne Carmichael


In this column just last month, I shared with you that I’ve recently become well-versed in diabetes management, dietary improvement, weight loss, and high blood pressure, all topics which hit close to home when I had a health scare in January of this year.

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To become more knowledgeable about health and fitness, I’ve looked into the popular smartwatches that monitor heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. Some of these watches even act as life alert systems for wearers with specific health issues, particularly seniors who might experience falls or become disoriented.

This morning it struck me that smartwatches might have yet another application for the Geri-Antic crowd. I have a brilliant idea for a new application that has the potential to turn one malady of aging from a negative into a positive. [Now, don’t be jumping the shark and try to patent my idea.]

The epiphany came when I, once again, experienced what scientists have dubbed “The Doorway Effect.”

The Doorway Effect is a genuine phenomenon that occurs when one’s brain is overloaded. You have too much on your mind. You’re overthinking. You walk into a room and forget why you came there.

I don’t have to ask if this has ever happened to you. I’m sure it has and you don’t have to be over 60 for this to happen. I’ve seen it happen to teens. Teens have enormous potential for brain overload. They are so busy thinking about plans with friends, romantic relationships, schoolwork, the big game and parental expectations; well you can see how there just might not be enough brain cells to devote to their intended reason for entering a room.

The mind of a young adult is also on overload. New adult responsibilities of jobs, homes, and families, which are all major life-changing events that usurp mental capacity.

Both the teen and young adult segments of the population can undoubtedly benefit from the data gathered on a smartwatch to monitor their health and fitness; however, I propose that the Geri-Antic crowd should have its customized version of a watch that would go far beyond the gathering of data for health and emergency alerts. Still, I would give bonus points for memory lapses that occur as one steps into a room.

It’s not so much that seniors have too much on their minds but rather we’re tired from decades of having too much on our minds. We’re just flat-out physically exhausted and mentally phffft.

We’ve left the workforce, and for the first time in our adult life, we’re able to take a deep breath and saunter through what remains of our earthly existence.

We seldom have to set the alarm clock to tell us when we must trudge out of bed. We get up when we want. Likewise, if we discover that time spent gardening the day before has left old bones and unused muscles aching, we can go right back to bed until we feel like getting back up.

We have what we want for breakfast (leftover birthday cake from a grandchild’s birthday party?). We eat every meal whenever we get hungry at a time that suits us.

So, it’s fine if we forget why we came into the room. We choose to think of it as exercise.

I would suggest to the manufacturers of the new Phffft Bit watch for the Geri-Antic crowd that the design would incorporate a Doorway button that the user would click whenever they forget why they entered a room. An automated voice would immediately give a few helpful prompts such as “Find your keys/purse/wallet/glasses’ or ‘Take a 5-minute break.” If these prompts triggered no memory, the user would then click the phffft button twice and the system would automatically add 1000 bonus steps to the daily log for the inevitable second trip back to the room at a later time. And because we can all use a morale boost, the automated voice (let’s call her Gladys) would chime, “Congratulations! You’ve just earned a bonus of 1000 steps toward your daily goal!”

If you’ve ever thought about returning to school for an additional degree or to continue to quench your thirst for knowledge, you may have heard of a test called the College Level Examination Program or CLEP. This test credits everyday life experiences toward placement in college-level classes.

I envision a scholarship fund awarded yearly by the Phffft Bit company to the seniors with the most logged steps traceable to a single location.

It wasn’t until after my 40th birthday that a life event sent me out into the real world. I had been a stay-at-home mom throughout 24 years of marriage, and then suddenly, I found myself single without any marketable skills to speak of.

Fearlessly, like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz armed with his ThD (Doctor of Thinkology), I headed out into the workforce for the first time in my adult life.

At first, I admit that I bluffed my way into the offices of a Fortune 500 company. Once my foot was firmly in the door, I took advantage of all their seminars on personal and professional growth and was ultimately rewarded with a position as an Executive Assistant.

Twenty-five years later, I was able to retire and begin a new career as a professional writer/author.

What does the future hold for you if you’re over 60 and retired from a former profession? The sky is the limit.

Even if you’re physically phffft and mentally exhausted, no matter your chronological age, the key is to challenge your mind every single day. Play brainteaser games, and solve puzzles of both the crossword and jigsaw variety. Engage in trivia competitions and word games with friends.

Remember, the Phffft Bit is ticking!