TV Watching and Our Aging Parents – Part 1
This is Part 1 of a 2-part series.
Click here to read Part 2.
As a family caregiver for over eight years, I’ve spent many hours touring or visiting senior citizens in both assisted living and board & care facilities. When I walk into the living room, one thing I am extremely conscious of is what TV programs the residents (or, as I prefer to call them, our Golden Oldies) are watching on TV.
My pet peeve is when I see the news playing on the screens!
Think about what we watch on any regular nightly news program — stories about violent crimes, “breaking news” that is negative in nature, live reports of car chases, shootings, bank robberies or child kidnappings, just to name a few. If it’s deemed a “big story,” the coverage will continue for hours with the same information being re-broadcast in a myriad of ways while reporters scramble for updates. And local news programs are on TV morning, noon and night. It’s really hard to watch any TV these days without being bombarded by news reports.
Several studies have shown that television viewing increases as our age does. One reason is that television replaces lost social contacts. Another reason is that as their senses get duller, it may be hard for seniors to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. In these situations, television provides both verbal and visual information together, especially now with the ability to enable closed-captioning on the screen itself. So there is a good chance our Golden Oldies are watching a lot more television as they age.
Consider how this affects our aging parents!
If they are watching more TV and it is filled with violence or upsetting stories, how do you think it colors their thinking and view of the world? My belief is they begin to believe the images seen on the news are occuring right in their own backyards, and that the world is a very scary place.
I saw this happen with my own parents, and I think it is the norm for many senior citizens these days. Just as we protect our children from TV news and violence, I believe we should protect our Golden Oldies from it as well.
Have you been conscious of what your aging parents watch on TV, whether they live independently or in assisted living?
Do they watch the news regularly?
Do you agree that these frightening stories have an effect on their perception of the locale in which they live? Do you think it changes their behavior by introducing a fearful vision of the world outside their door?
Let’s discuss. I welcome your comments below.
In Part 2, I will provide ideas on how to improve our aging parents’ TV viewing experience.