If your elderly only has religion and politics on tv for an interest, doesn't that not count?

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I've never seen my dad read a book or even a magazine. He never had a hobby other than sitting in his recliner watching TV. The only things that interest him are religion and politics on tv, yet he can't articulate anything about the politics to make it an actual interest. Both are emotionally charged subjects. How do I explain to him that they aren't real hobbies or interests that make you grow as a person and be open minded?

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While there are certain shows we like on TV, it's not always an "interest" per se, I think. Sometimes, we are used to these and just find some comfort in doing the same thing, I think. So, it might be that Dad can't discuss what he saw because his memory isn't good. Or, it might be that he just watches it because that's what he's comfortable with.

But the entire question of how many activities a person should have is a charged one. On one hand, when a person is an adult, we probably should leave them to do what they want. Those of us who are pushing our parents to do more are probably slacking-off in some of the things we're making them do. I've got Mom drinking 64 ounces of water a day (on doctor's orders, before you ask) and I'll be honest that I'm not doing that, myself.

On the other hand, if a person is going downhill and we can help them, possibly we should care enough to do so. If we see they are becoming senile and forgetful and if we know we could help them with varied activities, we probably should try to urge them to do this.

The problem we really face is this: where is the line between caring and in merely butting into another person's life? That's the real issue, here.

In my mother's case, she probably would have died without some intervention and she agrees she wouldn't have wanted that. That's the only reason she is sometimes congenial about doing what the doctors and I want her to do. She'd let herself go into a decline and family members are shocked and pleased at the difference in her state of mind, now that she has these other things to do. She is blossoming with the attention, to some amount.

Her sister just yesterday was saying all this to me, basically what I just said in the last paragraph. And she is talking about how she should do some of these things, too. I urged her to do some of them, talked about some habits she could start that would be easy and non-threatening (She wants to walk more but doesn't want to go outside, so I suggested walking inside her house some specific number of times and figuring out how far she went. I didn't suggest a pedometer because we're too cheap in my family for that, but she has a tape measure, for sure!

In my aunt's case, she has plenty of children to care, but the very fact that they're not there to push her a bit make all the difference between thinking she "should" do these things and in really doing them - where my mother does them because I'm here to remind her why.

Back to your dad: ask yourself why he'd do anything else? Does he need to get up and around more? Is he losing mobility? If he's losing mobility, does he care? These are the types of questions I ask Mom (and aunt). Sometimes, they just don't realize how their own habits are working toward them getting forgetful, losing mobility, etc... When they realize it, they sometimes want advice/help. Otherwise, they just don't know what I'm "on" about. :-)
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Since my mom watches fox news 24/7 I am always kept up to date on events whether I like it or not. Someone told me that FOX news was like Sesame Street for seniors.
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anonymous221925, I know what you mean about politics being emotionally loaded and partisan.... I am a political junkie but I keep my comments to just historical facts, but there are others out there who will say outrageous things just to get a rise :]

Would your Dad be interested in watching U.S. history? I find such programs, especially on the life of the Presidents, very interesting. It will at least give your Dad some background history to help with his political remarks.

My boss and I are light years apart when it comes to politics.... at first it use to bother me because I felt like he was trying to change my political beliefs.....so now I just ignore him whenever he goes into a rant thinking to myself where on earth did he get THAT information?
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I did not mean to convey that an elderly person should start new interests, especially one with dementia! It just seems like a person who is only into politics and religion is going to feel combative, because they are both so emotionally loaded and "partisan." I lost a dear friend who was 73 and she liked the computer, but she pushed her politics on me too much. I don't think politics are such a healthy interest for an elderly person. I think religion is ok as its comforting but not if they are combative over it and obsessed, like my dad is with it and his father before him.

I think its cute that freqflyer's Dad was a weather junkie! Now that's an intellectual thing to be!
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Let's not try to over think this. Your Dad is an adult, and at his age he should be able to do whatever he wants, within reason.... if it is watching TV, so be it.

My Dad is a weather junkie, at first it use to really annoy my Mom until she realized at least she knows where he is.... in front of a TV somewhere in the house :]
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Let me add that I was saying I agree with Jessie, Eyerish & Jeanne in terms of how to deal with the limited interests of an elderly loved one.
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I agree - our elderly loved ones are who they are - they may not enjoy the things we do, or the things we *think* they should enjoy. My mother used to love reading - and fostered that love in her children as well. Now, though, she has trouble focusing on what she's reading as her age advances - she's told me she no longer enjoys reading as much as she used to, because she finds herself re-reading the same paragraphs or pages over and over again, because she forgets if she's read it or not. My siblings insist that I try to do things with Mom to stimulate her mind and keep her "sharp" - the sad truth is that no matter what you do, if they have early Alzheimers or just age-related decline of memory, no amount of stimulation is going to change it - and Mom gets upset if I try to push too hard at brain-stimulating activities. She gets frustrated when she can't do certain things, and I don't see the value in causing her frustration and embarrassment when her memory fails her.

My mom is like JessieBelle's mom - she has her routine of tv shows every day, and that's pretty much all she does. She sits and watches tv, sleeps and eats. Occasionally, I can get her to go outside and try to walk up and down the wheelchair ramp for exercise, but she won't do it every day. If she won't walk, then I try to get her to just sit outside in the sunshine and fresh air for a bit. (I have to watch her sun exposure due to her meds, though.) When she feels really good, we break out the scooter and I take the dog for a walk while she rolls along beside me.

For most of us, the loved ones we care for are much older than we are, and are very set in their ways - they've lived full lives and don't really care to change their habits at this point, and as I mentioned before, if they have memory loss or memory decline, it may be frustrating for them to try and learn new things, because they have a routine and are comfortable with it. It's up to us to make the best of what they enjoy, unless they are willing to try something new. If they're not, don't push it.
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I hit 'submit' by accident.

Anyway, the point is that at our parents age and considering their infirmities and state of mind it's too much to expect that they all of a sudden take up stamp collecting or building ships in a bottle. So that leaves tv. Watching tv is easy. Easy on the body (maybe too easy) and easy on the mind. If our parents aren't interested in finding new hobbies at their age that's OK.
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I see so many posts here from adult children wanting their elderly parents to engage in something other than tv. A hobby. But like JeanneGibbs said, what exactly do you want them to do? We see posts about how our parents don't want to go out, they don't want to do puzzles, they don't want to do this and they don't want to do that, so what is the magic solution that we're all missing? It's nothing! We're missing nothing!

One of the first things to go when dementia sets in is reading. I would see papers piled up in my dad's room and this from a man who spent over an hour everyday pouring over the paper for most of his adult life.

When his body began breaking down he felt to unwell to bbq, another hobby and love of his. This was another sign, to me, that he was changing. I tried to encourage him, sure, but he just wasn't able to do it anymore.
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My mother watches a religious channel (TBN) every morning. She doesn't remember what they are talking about, but she enjoys it. Then she watches games shows, Little House, and the Waltons during the afternoon. Most she has already seen, but she enjoys them. She has never really had any hobbies beyond crossword puzzles and walking. She can't see much anymore and can barely walk, so I guess TV it is. One might say it isn't good for her, but sometimes we have to use our best judgment. It keeps her from being bored and me from going crazy.
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