A boomer’s games to keep the brain supple!

Word play. It used to suggest flirtation. But for Kitty Torres, who lives near New York City, as a baby boomer, it now means exercise! That’s what she writes about for BoomerCafé in an essay she calls, “Whatchamacallit … I Mean Word Play.”

It was amazing what happened to my vocabulary once menopause broke out into full swing … or should I say full sweat. Words disappeared altogether and, even worse, words that were totally incorrect would be added to the mix. Like mitten became mutton, stove morphed into sink, and day lurched to way. This jumble of jargon required careful proofreading of all emails personal and professional. It became a necessity, doing once, twice, and thrice. I would later learn that the best established business people always reread even their simplest emails three times looking for mental midget mistakes.

Scrabble Sprint

So we got through menopause, doing what we could to keep the brain alive, and then crossed the dreaded demarcation line of turning 65-years-old. The time for countermeasures to brain-drain was here.

Salvaging what little vocabulary is stored in my brain, I have taken to playing Scrabble Sprint online. I get to try to form words using letters that sometimes confound me to no end. Still there is delight when I can cobble together a term that I have not used before and it appears on on my horizon like Christopher Columbus discovering the new world! I remember the word mouse. Or airy.

Playing this game though can go from annoying to downright terrifying. Why can’t I remember these stupid words? Then I take a walk, work out, or swim laps in the pool, relaxed and exercised, and guess what? The words come and my score doubles.

Some current theory suggests that playing board games like Scrabble does little for the brain. Aerobic exercise gets some oxygen into that cerebral cortex and helps keep the gray matter percolating; I’d much rather take a walk than play word games any day anyway.

Kitty Torres

Now another funny thing about playing word games is finding words that are not words but should be. And the opposite, finding words that can’t possibly be words that are indeed in the dictionary.

“Lue” is not a word, nor is “que” for that matter… not in English, anyway. If they were words, lue would mean a male hula dancer and que might mean a misfire on the pool table.

I enjoy trying to play the word “vit.” Guess what? Vit is not a word. If it was, I would give it a definition of a short pulse of verve. Like oomph. Did you know oomph is a Scrabble standard?

Linguistics is a delightful science that listens to the people and populates our dictionary with new lingo all the time. Hip hop is already way old.
So what am I really saying? Play word games, like Scrabble, and Words with Friends, but don’t forget to also take that walk. Your brain will thank you for it.

By the way, never use the word “whatchamacallit” in Scrabble Sprint, it just won’t fit. But don’t forget about it entirely, it might show up in a 15-letter category on Jeopardy.


  1. Kitty is right. Exercise for one’s health is not just a physical endeavor; it’s vital that we keep our brains active, sharp and fit as we get older. Unfortunately, I may be in the minority when it comes to being a fan of scrabble; to me, it’s the mental equivalent of being forced to eat broccoli as a kid. I stick to reading books, newspapers and magazines!

  2. Thanks Kitty, I love the idea of playing with words. I do it a bit with my writings but I can’t seem to organize my life to include all those things I am supposed to do to enhance my health. Just walking 30 minutes a day is a challenge. But, you have stimulated my desire to continue to find ways to “exercise” my vocabulary 🙂

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