I really want my grandmother to branch out--and to cut back the TV! Has anybody solved this problem?

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I have a grandma who, all her life, has never completed any goals, had to work independently, or really do anything ambitious (her exact words). All she does and has done is sit in front of the TV all day and night and walks her dog for 15 minutes a day. All her friends are far way, she has no hobbies or obvious interests. It's obvious she has depression, and I sympathize for her greatly. She already looks a lot older than she is and you can tell she is full of regrets. Every month I send her classes being offered at the local Community College for non-credit AND for cheap. She has no interest in any of them. I try having her help me with volunteering, but she never takes my offers up. As one with diagnosed depression, I've found myself in similar slumps, but this slump hasn't been going on for over 40 years! I really, really want my grandmother to branch out--and to cut back the TV! Spending many hours in front of the screen is obviously detrimental to her health, and it's blatantly showing. I really need tips. Has anybody here had similar problems? If you have, did you solve the problem or is it just pointless? I'd love to see what you guys come up with. :)

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Jeanne, you made a good point. We can think that our parent or grandparent is miserable because we would be miserable doing something. Chances are that it is exactly what they want to do, so we should let them. I can imagine me coming to your home and encouraging you to put down the book and do something. If I did it a few times you'd probably think me an awful nag. Personally I think that roller coasters and trips to exotic places sound good, but often sitting and reading or looking at the sunset (or TV) is exactly what we want to be doing. No one needs to feel guilty about it.
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My mom is 79 and lives in a continuing care community. I can't tell you how many activities they have available. You could stay busy all day long. She has her own apartment and gets up late, watches TV all day while napping off and on and goes down to dinner at 5:00 with a group of women. Dinner is the highlight of her day. I have tried over and over to get her involved in activities or the trips they offer but she just isn't interested. One day she told me "I guess I'm just lazy and you're hyperactive".
I finally realized that this is what SHE wants and I'm just going to have to live with it. The first 18 months after my dad passed she lived with us and like Erinm60 said, it was frustrating because she spent her day in our living room and we had to hear her shows all day. I still get sick to my stomach when I hear Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy come on TV:)
If you think it's depression go with her to her doctor and have her talk to him. Maybe medication will help. If it's just her personality and she's doing what she's been doing for 40 years, let it go. It was hard for me to let it go but as my husband reminded me, my mom has always spent most of her life sitting around watching TV. Why would she change now?
Your grandma is lucky to have such a caring granddaughter.
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How old is Gramma, Rainbow? If she is a grandmother that means she raised at least one child. Did she do it watching tv all day? Did she have maids? Nannies? Housekeepers? Apparently she did not have a paying job. But I think it is naive and disrespectful to assume she never accomplished anything.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty about all the time I spend sitting around reading. And then I remember that sitting around reading is exactly what I always hoped I could do in retirement. If someone assumes that I am depressed because I have my nose in a book so much, they are quite wrong.

Maybe your grandmother is depressed. If so, as you know it is hard for her to take the initiative to make improvements. So it is kind of you to make suggestions and offer encouragement. But I think that she has to at least accept that change is desirable before anything can improve. If she is satisfied watching television, I don't think there is a lot you can do to change that.
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My mother watches TV all day long. She has for 20 years now. Actually she watched TV mornings, nights, and weekends when I was a kid. It makes me feel guilty, like I should be providing her with company or something to do. The problem there is I hate the programs she watches -- game shows and old reruns -- and can't sit still for more than 5 minutes. She is also very unpleasant to talk to because she doesn't hear well and I have to shout over the TV. She starts coming up with tasks for me right away, then starts finding fault in me in about 5 minutes. To keep sanity I have to keep time together short.

I offer options on things to do. Her answer is that she is old and watching TV is what she wants to do. My father and she rarely talked and didn't have much to do with each other, so maybe TV has always been her main friend. It's sad, but I can't let myself feel guilty about what she chooses for herself.

A really sad thing is that she prefers the TV to having real interactions with people. This is a very lonely house for both of us.
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Sounds like we're all saying the same thing -- If she is doing what she wants to, then don't worry about it. :-)
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Hi RainbowPrism. How old is your grand ma? My 79 year old mother watches news about 14 hours a day. She and I walk our dogs nightly. 15 minutes to a half hour. She will not change the channel She has dementia. Pretty sure she has Alzheimer's. Shes on aricept ( generic) and was recently prescribed an antidepressant. I asked her last night if she's bored. She said no. She's content watching tv. She lives with me. She does enjoy doing laundry . She calls no one. Has 1 friend who she used to see twice a week for an hour and a half. He drove. Well that's down to once a month. I'm no where near her age. I have no clue if that's how most 80 year olds spend their day. It is frustrating for my husband , daughter and me because she's in our family room. Not her room. So we have no access to the kitchen with out hearing Fox News.
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Rainbow, Grandmother had no goals? What about the child or children she had raised? Right there is over 18 years of one's life or more depending on how many years there are between children. That's a lot of work.

We need to remember as we age we do tend to become tired quicker. I noticed a huge change from when I was in my 50's to now being in my early 70's. Half my energy disappeared and I can't find it. And here at one time I was a gym rat.  It's just part of aging. And here I was dealing with my parents who were in their mid-to-late 90's.

And some of us have lost our friends, either they moved to be closer to their own elderly parents, or they had passed away. Some of us don't really care for driving any more, too much road rage, or the fear of the driver behind you is too busy on their cellphone. Modern technology has become too complicated. Heck I still have my flip phone [I realize some younger people may not know what type of phone that is].

I still have my career and that gives me a reason to get up in the morning to get ready for work. It has been my saving grace. I also do volunteer work on Saturday at a hospital, but I started that over 20 years ago.

Walking is the best thing to do, if the person can tolerate it. Like early morning when it isn't so hot. But walk with her, as some of us don't like walking alone [I don't]. My folks using to walk 2 miles a day when they were in their 80's. Start out a short walk. Can grandmother's dog walk more than 15 minutes, if so, the dog would enjoy a change of pace with 2 or 3 walks each day.

If the weather is bad, and there is a mall nearby, some malls have early morning walking time before the stores open up. You can "window shop" :)
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Jessibelle...I picked up on your remark about your parents relationship. My parents have never had a meaningful conversation in 65 years. They both sat in front of the tv from about noon on. Their buffer. Dad passed about 3 weeks ago. Mom was actually very relieved. The tv habit is deeply ingrained. I feel guilty for letting her sit, but as stated above, it is what she wants. She watches "My 600 lb body"around the clock. Wish she would change the channel. Fortunately, she lives next door. I don't like going over there, but must several times a day. I don't like this h*ll ride.
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I agree with Jessiebelle and JeanneGibbs. To be honest, your grandma may resent being asked to rejoin life and take part in the things you've chosen for her. I've never been a "do-er" or a joiner either. I did my part when my kids were little and even taught preschool for a while. But, I never made strong, lasting friendships. I am an only child so no sibs as "friends". Now, as caregiver for my disabled husband, I have even less inspiration to go out and socialize. Despite this, I am not miserable 100% of the time. There are things and people in my life I enjoy. And, I do enjoy being left alone. I have a doctor who cares about me and makes sure I am on the right medications for depression and anxiety. You are wonderful for caring so much about her and I'm sure she loves you for it.
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... poster do excuse by why would you expect her to change now. Although it's sweet you believe you see a need, it's unrealistic to look for her to suddenly be interested in being "different.

First of all, from what you've written, your grandmother has never been highly goal, nor socially driven, so to be bothered by that now I would need to ask you, why. from what you've written you mention shes aging prematurely, well, what is her age?

..... regardless, there's somthing to keep in mind, as humans age, their world becomes very small. Most no longer see the need nor reason to be active to any level that someone younger may be. Their actual 'needs switch to minimal maintenance, and their desires are changed to 'in the moment" Or to the very near future, rather than any distance future ... then any remaining, or stronger desires are simply limited to what their minds can remember. Their lives are extremely simplified for self survival, so easy things such as food, television, etc, are actually paramount to them.

Try to remember, although you may see a routine as boring and detrimental, if you lower your expectations perhaps you will see they have simply chosen to minimize their life, for themselves.

About Television; for the elder individuals Tv is effortless and instant entertainment, instant mind busying, and instant companionship without thought. Many times their body reacts to television by reducing heart rate and breathing seems to regulate (sometimes too low) but it's a calming effect due to the familiarity and the entertainment aspect of it.

reply to posters question;
most aged' need to be gently reminded and then nudged forward to do things out side of their daily comfort level. Perhaps eagerly yet again gently, invite and then lovingly coax her to do some things, but ''only the things where you yourself can attend with her.

If you do not live with her, might I suggest you simply end your expecting her to act the way you wish (we all have unrealistic expectations of our elders, and we do that so we can rest easier ourselves thinking that if they do this and if they would do that, they will be better balanced, etc, when, it's actually us who need to lower our own expectations ) ....

... and by the way, the 15 min per-day dog walk you say she takes, is excellent for her both mentally and physically. I honestly would worry less about her television and simply stop trying to change her ways at this late in the game when she's clearly shown you who she is up to now. ;) take care.
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