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60-Something: A Bridge That's Not Really Too Far

August 17, 2014 12:15 pm  • 

I learned to play bridge in high school. My parents played. I think they thought it was something like table manners, good grammar and tennis that middle class children could learn and then, later, possibly use these skills to “pass” for rich.

If, perchance, a non-debutante was invited to say, The Hamptons, for, say, The Weekend, and if she could eat soup in the proper way, with the proper spoon; speak wittily with grace; hold her own in mixed doubles; and score at the bridge table—she would be considered good company, no matter from whence she came.

Of course this was the era when our war-wounded fathers went to college on the G.I. Bill, our state universities provided fine educations for the un-wealthy, and many of us grew up believing we were “as good as” rich people.

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60-Something: The Uncanny Valley of Discombobulation

July 12, 2014 1:00 pm  • 

We all know about the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” where we shall fear no evil. But what about the “Uncanny Valley of Discombobulation”? Shall we be fearless there as we navigate the precipice?

Having slipped into the valley and clawed my way up the jagged cliffs, I’m here to report that we shall all escape, unnerved, if not unscathed. Grandparents, beware! You live on cliff, a spit, a mesa, a batholith. One misstep, down you go.

The Uncanny Valley refers to a fine line between “cute” and “creepy.” Scientists first noticed this when people confronted human-like robots. When the robots looked clearly like robots, people thought they were “cute.” When the robots were designed to be more and more like humans, folks thought they were kind of “creepy.” Researchers called the graphed moment when “cute” started looking “creepy”—the Uncanny Valley.

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60-Something: Mixed Nuts

June 11, 2014 12:45 am  • 

Forty years ago I walked nervously up a curving metal staircase, across an empty lobby, into a darkened theater. I found a seat with a shadowy, scraggly bunch at a nightclub table in the cold room. Blank-faced and terrified, we all stared up at the bright stage and the six empty bentwood chairs.

All of us auditioning that day knew—or suspected, or hoped—that deep inside us were really funny, actually hysterically funny, people. Our ships had plowed the turbulent waters of 1960s America and we had just just pulled into the harbor. Here, Chicago’s “Statue of Liberty”, Second City, promised that all us funny people might just finally actually be free, oh, lordy, free at last. Free to be funny for money. (Which really meant working at the top of your intelligence and getting paid for it.)

Last week I watched another group of players read through some scenes from their new show, Mixed Nuts. Here’s the rub: These aren’t 20-somethings washing up on comedy’s shore, they’re “seasoned” players, average age around 65. They’ve been there, done that, and guess what? They know darn well what’s smart and funny and they’re dishing it out, or rather, serving it up, like a gourmet meal from the galley, for their friends and family on deck.

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60-Something: Guilty pleasures

May 20, 2014 3:41 pm  • 

Sometimes you have to plan a little treat for yourself in order to get yourself to complete a task. It’s a delayed rewards thing. Many of us learned how it works at our mothers’ knees.

Eat your vegetables, then you get desert. Clean up the puzzle you are playing with, then you can get out your paints. Put on your hat, mittens and boots, then you can go outside.

Some of us got money after we got good grades. Others got better jobs, after we completed training. Like that. Some folks hit their kids; others are positively reinforced. That works better.

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60-Something: A Baby Boomer moment for skin care products

April 15, 2014 3:41 pm  • 

When all is said and done, it seems like nothing is ever finally said and done. Research continues at a maddening pace into the efficacy of the anti-aging products we put on our skin.

Maybe it's because 8,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day (and we have a ton of wrinkles!). Maybe it's because as a group, humans are totally susceptible to advertising. Whatever, anti-aging skin care is an $8 billion business in this country. Count in the rest of the world and the amount probably doubles.

Just trying to find out what might work to make your skin look better turns out to be a journey down a long, dusty, and oxidizing road. The FDA does not regulate “cosmeceuticals,” as they are called in the industry. Individual brands conduct tests designed to produce results vaulting their own particular potions. Plus everybody is different and some folks might feel that a certain product makes their skin look and feel better than others do. If you're really worried about your skin, see a dermatologist and ask your mother what she uses.

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60-Something: Ask a stupid question, get a complicated answer

March 18, 2014 3:41 pm  • 

Leaf through a magazine while you're in the grocery store check-out line; click around channels on your TV; write someone an email with the words “anti-aging;” in the subject line. Doubtless, you will be bombarded with more claims of miraculous wrinkle-removers than Lourdes sends out news stories of lame people throwing away their crutches.

Unfortunately most of these claims can not be substantiated. Why not? Isn't the government supposed to protect us from false claims and "snake oil" salesmen? Isn't there supposed to be truth in advertising? Ask a stupid question, and if you ask the right people, you'll get a very detailed explanation of why your question is not necessarily stupid, but difficult to answer succinctly.

Dr. Michael O'Donoghue, dermatologist with Franciscan Alliance, led me to fascinating article by Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos, Department of Dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine Durham, North Carolina in the scholarly journal Dermatologic Therapy, Vol. 25. Some of us have come to believe that Cindy Crawford or Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah is the Queen of Cosmetics. Actually it's Dr. Draelos and she's very good at separating miracles from mole hills.

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60-Something: Life Raft in the Skin Desert

60-Something: Life Raft in the Skin Desert
March 04, 2014 6:21 pm  • 

Part of our family lore includes the story of my 90-year-old grandmother, who bought a skin cream promising to erase her wrinkles and rejuvenate her skin, making her look decades younger. She followed directions on the lotion's package for about a week, examined her face closely in the mirror every day. She discerned no visible change. "Lies," she mumbled. "Lies and false promises." She put that potion back in the box and took it to the drug store, where she asked for, and received her money back.

If American women did the same thing today, we'd have about $8 billion (some say $16 billion) more money in our pocket-books than we had yesterday. That's how much we spend each year on "anti-aging" skin care products. Some work a little, some work a little more, and studies show us that the OTC (over-the-counter) cheaper concoctions are mostly just as effective as specialty products touted by movie stars and an occasional doctor.

Dr. Michael O'Donoghue, a dermatologist with the Franciscan Health Alliance, was kind enough to share several scientific research papers from Dermatologic Therapy and describe the anti-aging skin business as he sees it.

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60-Something: Walking The Dog

March 04, 2014 5:54 pm  • 

Chances are, when you see older folks walking a dog while wearing headphones, they’re not listening to Beyonce or Jay Z. They’re listening to a book or a magazine article, maybe a podcast that they borrowed from the local library. Many listeners don't even have to leave home to borrow the material—they download it from the Internet with their library cards. It's free. Well, paid-for already with tax money.

While the readership of traditional books has fallen off a little, readership of downloadable audio books and e-books is exploding. According to Lake County Library Director of Circulation Julie Bradford, patrons of Lake County downloaded almost 85,000 e-books and 27,000 recorded books last year. Every month more and more books are added to their downloadable selections.

The Porter County library may not have downloadable audio books yet—but they're doing a rip-roaring business in lending. Assistant Director Phyllis Nelson, told me “In 2013, the Porter County Library (this includes all five branches - Valparaiso, Portage, South Haven, Hebron, and Kouts) circulated about 1.6 million items. This includes every single thing that was checked out during the year—books, DVDs, books on CD, magazines, etc. etc. Of this number, 43,281 were books on CD that were checked out by patrons.”

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60-Something: Life Raft in the Skin Desert

March 04, 2014 11:00 am  • 

Part of our family lore includes the story of my 90-year-old grandmother, who bought a skin cream promising to erase her wrinkles and rejuvenate her skin, making her look decades younger. She followed directions on the lotion's package for about a week, examined her face closely in the mirror every day. She discerned no visible change. "Lies," she mumbled. "Lies and false promises." She put that potion back in the box and took it to the drug store, where she asked for, and received her money back.

If American women did the same thing today, we'd have about $8 billion (some say $16 billion) more money in our pocket-books than we had yesterday. That's how much we spend each year on "anti-aging" skin care products. Some work a little, some work a little more, and studies show us that the OTC (over-the-counter) cheaper concoctions are mostly just as effective as specialty products touted by movie stars and an occasional doctor.

Dr. Michael O'Donoghue, a dermatologist with the Franciscan Health Alliance, was kind enough to share several scientific research papers from Dermatologic Therapy and describe the anti-aging skin business as he sees it.

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60-Something: A New Career in Skin Care?

February 25, 2014 6:09 pm  • 

Here's one of the problems with being retired, semi-retired, about-to-be retired, "redundant" as the Brits say, just plain old: Your skin starts feeling like cardboard and looks like one of those topographical maps we made out of starch in grade school. There are unexpected peaks, pores clogged since 1973, and valleys in which you could lose a war.

But still. . .we want to look good.

Another problem with being retired are the odd job opportunities that arise from nowhere. Recently my husband came home with a new idea. We could (together!?!) sell a brand new miraculous skin-care product that promises to make everybody look younger in the first five days. After a month? Positively virginal. Skin, as smooth as a baby's.

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