Alleviating Isolation Among the Elderly: Watch TV!

The sense of isolation among seniors is always magnified during the winter months.   It’s cold, it’s dark, and people tend to stay indoors more.  As such, the elderly are generally impacted the most with this.

So how do we help?  Thankfully it needn’t be too difficult or cumbersome.  In fact, it can be just as simple as sitting on a sofa watching TV….just with the elderly so that they are actually not alone.

Volunteering Matters – a leading UK charity made up of volunteers – initiated the program (together with the official TV Licensing body in the UK) asking individuals to sign up to a “befriending” venture.  TV Licensing Jason Hill explained:

“Over-75s consume more TV each day than any other age group, so the weekly TV schedule can provide a great opportunity for volunteers to share their favourite regular programme in the company of an older person, particularly as winter draws in and great TV seasons begin. Volunteering Matters can help by matching up people wanting to help another person tackle loneliness and social isolation.”

This is a pretty good idea given that TV is often such a big part of seniors’ lives anyway.  As an article written a few years ago by Michael Antonoff noted, while there are deteriorations in one’s vision and hearing as one ages (often), with TV that’s often less of an issue.  The other thing volunteers can do to assist in this is making sure the elderly have a good screen, with easy-to-use features and up-to-date software.

In addition, according to director of Programs on Aging in MSU ‘s College of Human Medicine, Sister Mary Honora Kroger, PhD, there are significant benefits that come with TV viewing for the elderly, since it “helps ward off boredom and loneliness, and helps them find something new to talk about.”  It was also found by a gerontology research group at Michigan State University that TV is a very therapeutic and popular companion to seniors in nursing homes.