New Book Helps Seniors Stay Sharp... and to Zone Out


Last updated 4/10/2020 at 11:26am | View PDF

"If we want to stay in the game, we need to keep our brains stimulated," explained Carol Pack, co-author of Mind Games & Soporifics, in the book's description on Amazon. "Too many of us have developed routines that make life predictable but don't do much to stimulate our cognitive functions."

Barbara Paskoff, the other co-author, told The Good Life that the new book, which follows their simultanously humorous and educational book, Over-Sixty Shades of Gray, was Pack's idea.

"This was Carol's baby," said Paskoff. "She gave birth to it. She said, 'Wouldn't it be fun if we created a puzzle book?'"

In addition to crossword puzzles, cryptoquotes, sudoku puzzles and word finds, the book includes pages to color and cartoons.

"If we don't laugh at growing older, we're going to cry," said Paskoff, who was happy with the decision to follow up their first book with a book of puzzles.

"It was perfect because who doesn't like to do crossword puzzles and coloring?" she said.

The co-authors said the new book had two goals: to help seniors sharpen their minds and to help them relax and sleep at night. They were asked how they could reach these two apparently irreconcilable goals.

"The 'Mind Games' are supposed to engage your mind," explained Pack. "We want to take you in the opposite direction when you are done. 'Soporifics' means mind numbing. When people color, they just zone out."

Actually, the explanation was there in the Amazon description Pack had previously provided.

"Researchers say the best way to stay mentally sharp is to challenge our brains with puzzles. And inside this book, we've got stuff to help you achieve that goal.

"We've read that crying can increase our brain's oxygen level, however, we've tried it and it only clogged our sinuses. Eating well, daily physical activity and getting enough sleep also help our brains. We thought we'd cram this book with nutritious foods, however, after a few days, the odor of rotting cabbage was overwhelming. That leaves exercise. Take a walk if you're physically able, and then exercise your brains by doing the puzzles in this book. Afterward, color our cartoons to relax your mind. It's that simple."

These days, Pack and Paskoff have had a busy schedule of speaking engagements. Their audiences have especially enjoyed what the authors call "memory lane."

"These are things we remember that are no longer in existence," said Pack. "We kind of reingage them about things in their past. We also talk about things that are good about getting old – like senior discounts."

They also talk to their audiences about ageism, and the occasional need to stand up for themselves.

Authors Carol Pack (left) and Barbara Paskoff

"What we do is give them steps on how to speak up for themselves," said Paskoff. "It has to start within yourself. I am who I am and don't treat me this way.

"Sometimes we talk about senior sex – what we should do or not do," she added. "It gets very quiet, especially when we talk about vibrators."

"We have to just shoot from the hip and react from each other," said Pack, and the two of them recalled when they tried unsuccessfully to give a longer, more structured PowerPoint presentation.

"The person who asked if we could go on longer left," said Paskoff.

There are currently no plans for their third collaboration.

"Nothing has really smacked us across the face," said Pack. "Everything we do, there's an inspirational moment, and we haven't had our inspirational moment."


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