The tedious pre-death "waiting period" endured by still-alive senior citizens became slightly less boring Tuesday, with the introduction of Old People magazine.
Published by SeniorBeat Press, the periodical has been designed, according to creator Hal Gurnstein, with one goal in mind: to give the elderly something to read while waiting for death.
"People in this country talk a lot about doing something for the elderly," Gurnstein, 31, said. "Well, here at Old People magazine, we're not just talking about it. We're doing something about it, tackling head-on the two most important issues facing old people today—namely, boredom, and the fact that they haven't died yet."
Old People, the first issue of which hit newsstands with its first issue Tuesday, features an oversized format with words printed in gigantic typeface large enough for even the oldest of the old to see clearly.
Featuring very large color pictures as well as special "I-Can-Read-It-All-By-Myself" stories—which contain no big words—the magazine's diverting, old-people-pleasing content is expected to provide the elderly with a fun and non-threatening experience.
Boasts Gurnstein, "This magazine will keep old people occupied for hours in silent reading fun."
The first issue of Old People features a photo essay on Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as articles on the post office, the late Bob Hope, and how pills are dissolved into applesauce in order to make them easier to swallow.
Most of the content in the new magazine, however, will focus on the subject of most interest to old people: dying. "Myrtle's Story," an example of the short fiction included, reads in part: "Myrtle was old. Very old. She waited and waited. Finally, she died."
According to Gurnstein, stories like this one have an important message of hope for the aged. "This story says to old people, 'All this waiting is not for nothing. Sooner or later, no matter how long it may seem, you will die,'" Gurnstein said. "In other words, hang in there. In the long run, death will come at last."
Another regular section of the magazine, titled "Your Great-Grandchildren," features full-color photos of various babies each week. "Of course, the babies will be selected at random and not actually related to the viewer in any way, but the reader won't know that," Gurnstein explained.
Also expected to be popular is the periodical's "Time To Go To Church" section, which features full-page color images of a church's exterior and interior, as well as images of people singing, Jesus hugging an old person, and smiling parsons who "greet" the reader.
"Going to 'church,' as they call it, is something many old people used to enjoy doing, for reasons we no longer understand," Gurnstein said. "Hopefully, these pictures will not only remind them of this long-gone weekly comfort, but, if they hold it close enough to their faces, they might also be able to pretend that they are actually there."
Though less than a week old, the new magazine is already a hit among the elderly. "Don't want to stay in the Center," raved Abraham Kriege, 97, speaking from his tiny cubicle at Sacred Aged Rest Golden Hills Retiree Center. "Tired of looking at wall… When I die? When?"
Added Henry Koon, 89: "Help me. Please."
As popular as it is with the aged, Old People is arguably even more well-liked by their families. "Every few minutes Grandma would demand we take her to the bathroom, even though she's been using adult diapers for eight years," said Hannah Swoboda, 41. "Even after we put her in the nursing home, she'd call all the time—'Want come back, want come back.' It was so tiresome. But now that she's got Old People magazine, that's all changed. Now we can barely drag her out of that home."
"It's really made a big difference," said Frank Bryce, 59, whose 86-year-old mother Eunice has not left her house in over three years. "God willing, she'll die soon, but even if she doesn't, now at least she has something to read while she sits there in her little wicker chair for hours on end."
The second issue of Old People magazine hits newsstands Dec. 20. It will include pictures of a horse and a duck.