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Should I worry what my senior relative watches on television?

It is common for people to worry about how television affects children. However, you might not be aware that what your aged loved one watches in a New Mexico nursing home is also important. Due to the greater emotional fragility of many seniors, particularly those who suffer from dementia, television can have a greater impact on a senior’s emotional state.

It is important to note that not every senior is the same. Some may be physically impaired but their emotional state is still robust and healthy. These seniors can still watch the kinds of television shows and movies that they enjoyed while they live at home. So if your loved one fits this description, you have nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, seniors who suffer from emotional depression or dementia could be adversely affected by the wrong kind of television. According to caregivers.org, seniors afflicted with Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia have a different filter of perception. It is more difficult for dementia sufferers to understand that what they are watching is fictional, which can worsen their current state of confusion.

Additionally, seniors with dementia can be affected by the emotions depicted on screen. A television show with a depiction of strong violence can greatly disturb or upset the watcher. A scene with a tragic death can make an Alzheimer’s patient very sad. Conversely, a television show or a movie with positive elements can induce happy or joyful feelings in a dementia sufferer.

For these reasons, you want your senior relative to be exposed to as much positive stimuli as possible. If your loved one is incapable of controlling a television to any extent, inquire about the kind of programming the nursing home allows. For example, ask what the television in a meeting area or dining room will be tuned into. Good choices can include a nostalgic cable channel that shows clean, upbeat sitcoms, or a classic movie channel, or a game show channel.

If your senior loved one needs assistance with a television set, discuss with the nursing home staff the kinds of channels you want your relative to be exposed to. Also talk about what channels that should be forbidden. News channels, for example, will at times broadcast negative news stories that might be upsetting to your loved one. You may also want to steer clear of channels that display heavy violence and sexuality. Look for channels that promote positive programming and decrease anxiety.

Be aware that this article is written to educate readers on nursing home topics and does not provide any legal advice.

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