If you’ve noticed your elderly parent has been spending too much time each day watching TV and you’re worried about it, there’s good reason to be concerned. Recent studies have shown that older individuals who watched more than 3.5 hours of TV a day experienced a decline in verbal memory. The study, which studied more than 3000 individuals over the age of 50, found that those who watched TV for 3.5 hours or more per day had an average decline of 8–10 percent in word- and language-related memory over the 6 years that the study took place. Those who did not watch as much TV had a much lower decline of 4–5 percent.
Pair that with the physical health issues that come along with being too sedentary and you might be scratching your head for ideas on how to get your parent away from the TV. Here are just a few ideas, but be creative and keep trying if your first attempts fall flat.
Hire an elder care provider to come to the home
The best way to get your parent away from the TV is to have a guest stop over. And if that guest is visiting specifically for your parent, your parent will have a much easier time walking away from the TV and engaging with his visitor. An elder care provider can have several reasons for stopping over, such as health checks, but also social checks. Perhaps your elder care provider can use her visiting time to take your parent for a walk or engage in a game of cards. Whatever the reason for the visit, if it gets your parent away from the TV, it’ll be a win.
Set a timer on the TV
Everyone has lost track of time while watching TV and your parent may not even realize he’s been watching so much. Setting a timer will help him know when his daily allotment of TV time is up for the day. Some TVs can be programmed to only allow so much watch time but even a physical timer that dings when it’s done, can be a good way to wake up your parent to his TV viewing period.
Support favorite activities
Does your parent love to work on puzzles? Then make sure he always has a new one on hand to do. If gardening is his thing, help him plant new vegetables or flowers to tend to each day. Reading is a great way to unwind and relax but still keep the mind engaged so make sure your parent has his favorite books and a nice comfortable place to enjoy them in.
Encourage new activities
If your parent has plenty of free time, encourage him to get out and explore the world around him. Maybe visit a new museum or even a mall. If he’s unable to drive, an elder care provider can be requested for a ride to some new places for him to visit and might even provide some company as well.
The more you can get your parent away from the TV and back into the “real” world, the more life satisfaction he will find.