Interests Beyond Television for Seniors

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

Caring for my 83-year-old dad at home continues to be a challenge. Thank goodness, however, his health remains remarkably well. He tends to be a homebody, and that’s okay, but if he prefers not to go out, what can I do to interest him in something other than the television?   -Linnette, Babylon, NY

Dear Sara,

At 83, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that your dad feels more comfortable being at home. Truth is, having him driving around at 83 could cause you even more of a challenge, depending on how healthy, independent and functioning he is. But according to all I’ve been seeing and reading the last few years, your answer, for me, seems simple. Get him a computer!

Researchers as prominent and prestigious as The Pew Center have been busily reporting on the steady rise of social networking use among adults, particular adults 65-plus, which represents one of the fastest growing Internet user groups. According to the Institute, a third of all Internet users over 65 (that’s 33%) are on social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more — these popular social networking sites are no longer just for the family’s grandchildren. Granddad and Great-Granddad are busy connecting and communicating online as well.

The actual use of the computer, as well, Linnette, will most likely help him maintain his mind sharp, keeping him focused on a variety of activities that require cognitive engagement. Where television viewing is passive consumption, computing requires content production, as well, and the creation of that content — commenting, posting, liking, chatting, searching and saving, etc. — these will all keep dad thinking, reading, writing, communicating and generally connected with the world around him. While these are all positives, Linnette, insist that he get off the couch and out from behind the computer at least a few times a week to get some movement and exercise, so that he can remain physically healthy as well. Thanks for your attention, Linnette, and encourage dad to visit this blog!

Maryellen McKeon

Source: Pew Internet; August 26, 2011

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