Natural Disasters – When Watching TV is Bad for the Elderly with Alzheimer’s Disease

When the TV is always on!

Some people live with the TV always on, like background music. The caregiver may  start their day with turning on the TV to catch the morning news and then just leave the TV on. A few years ago my husband and I owned but didn’t operate a small assisted living home in Florida. We had residents up to age 102 years, but they all had some level of confusion or dementia. Our biggest challenge was caregivers. Even though the home had a large beautiful four season’s room over looking the backyard pool. The residents spent their days getting up, getting dressed, eating and then sitting in the living room in front of a TV all day with all of the drapes closed so they could see the picture better.

This wasn’t the way I wanted to care for the elderly, so we had to close that home. I pictured a home where the drapes were open, people moved around the house helping make lunch – not only eating, sitting in the four seasons and enjoying nature and maybe a simple board game. And most of all soft music playing, not the constant drone of the TV.

Negative TV!

Bad News! Sad News! That is repeated over and over throughout the day. When news breaks that is frightening, like an earthquake or flood, some major disaster, the confused person might think it involves a loved one or themselves.

Crime dramas – soap operas, stories of personal tragedy where people are crying, yelling and angry or screaming in fear. People with Alzheimer’s disease no longer see the difference between the picture on the TV and reality.

Positive TV!

Shows from the past that the person always enjoyed. Lawrence Welk Show, always the favorite. Wheel of Fortune hasn’t changed its format for years and so remains very familiar. Re-runs of shows from early TV days, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke and always I Love Lucy.

Make it a happy day – turn off the TV.

Virginia Garberding, R N.

Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance


  1. I have read a number of posts on this blog now and have to mention that I absolutely love the way you manage to phrase and also clarify everything, it makes it very easy to read. I should also say that I completely concur with everything you have said here, these kind of things are very important to the planet and the quicker we all realize it the better we will be off as a whole.

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