We are in great need of help regarding the following matter. My mother is 85 years old, suffers from dementia and hyper-tension, and lives in a level 3 elder care facility that is privately owned. It is a small facility and has five residents at maximum capacity. The owners are new and this is their first “group home”. Recently they admitted a younger woman who suffered a fall and cannot live on her own while she is on the mend. She is a temporary resident, and doesn’t suffer from the same elder related diseases my mother and other residents there do. Since she arrived she has taken over the television in the main room, so everybody else has to endure whatever programs she likes to watch, from the beginning of the day until bedtime. This entails soap operas where the characters engage in fornication and bickering disputes, Dr. Phil and other more innocuous programs like Ellen which is light-hearted in content but has loud screaming audience members. She has a television in her room and is physically able to get up from her seat and watch her programs there, but she chooses to remain in the common area where my mother and another resident spend the majority of their time as they are not physically able to leave the room. My mother has never enjoyed the type of programs the new resident insists on watching and is too polite to complain. The other resident is unable to communicate at all. The woman appears completely uninterested in how her viewing pleasure affects anyone else, doesn’t ask, and keeps the remote beside her at all times, as she reads her novel while the television blares and drones on. As I mentioned, my mother suffers from hyper-tension and severe dementia and is now becoming uncommunicative, something she does when she is so unhappy she retreats within herself. The hyper-tension puts her at a high risk for stroke and she becomes agitated and distracted easily. I am reluctant to address the issue with the new owner because I don’t want to do anything which could jeopardize her residency, but at the same time I am dumbfounded that such an obvious point of general consideration and common sense regarding the living environment for the elderly should even have to be addressed. It occurred to me that the Alzheimer’s Association might have some literature available that could help communicate to the owner the appropriate television viewing guidelines for residents in elder care facilities, and failing that, any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

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Shaboopie, nothing is ever simple. It isn't wrong to assert your mother's - and the other residents - rights just because this woman is sweet tempered and needy. In the best of worlds a compromise could be found that would satisfy all of them, but of course the best compromises usually leave everyone feeling a little unhappy.
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It's not as simple as you might think.
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Supportive comments are appreciated but undeserved, and I will attempt to explain why as it was similar black and white thinking that led me astray. When we have experienced negligent or even sub-standard care for a loved one it can make us hyper-vigilant and lose a more rational perspective. There are so many other factors involved that there isn’t space on this board to address them all, and to be brief would only send a beast spinning around chasing the tail, however;
Had I not, during previous conversations with her, misread the distant expression on her face to reveal a cold or unfriendly demeanor I would have been aware that she is a lovely and most agreeable person who would have gladly obliged to watch any alternative program suggested. That she prefers to be in the company of her housemates and staff rather than alone in her room makes her all the more endearing.
She doesn’t have a head injury and the details of her medical and mental condition are none of my business and should remain so. The owners are running a care center not a correctional facility and must follow state and federal regulations which prohibit many restrictions and dictations of how residents choose to spend their time and where or when they do so but most importantly;
People are complicated and even more so when they require extra care and from the responses received when I engaged her in conversation with a more thoughtful albeit educated perspective she appears to be one of the sweetest and most polite people one could hope to meet. Lacking pretense, suspicion and a guarded attitude many of us acquire over time spent in a jaded world where it often seems required for self-defense makes her vulnerable as well even without the physical injury and my behavior even more inexcusable.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the new owner is aware of her gentle temperament and many other personal factors that anyone privy to would encourage her to make herself as comfortable as possible while she heals in a safe place. That she has been given a home to do so, and with my mother who has been treated with the highest level of care she has received to date displays an understanding and ability to balance the varying and ever changing needs of individual residents. The owner is qualified, blameless in this situation and in my opinion will succeed in the endeavor to provide quality care in elder convalescence.
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TV should not be allowed to be the only occupation for anyone in a residential facility. It should be rationed. maybe an hour of news after breakfast then it goes off and there are other activities even if it means only wheeling the residents outside in nice weather. After lunch time for a nap in their own room with their own TV if desired. After dinner a suitable movie or some of the old shows such as the Golden Girls which most elderly seem to like. I personally love the old British shows on PBS but that is because I am English.
Hubby insists on watching the blood and guts of WW11 or nature programs which always show the survival of the fittest and baby animals getting slaughtered brutally. I personally like the DIY shows and things like "How it's made" Every new room mate I had in the hospital immediately turned on her TV the minute she hit the bed. I was so pleased when one old lady came in and said "My name is ***** and I am very deaf". That was the last I heard from her.
You were far from wrong in raising this issue not just for your Mom but for the other three elderly residents. The facts of the matter are that this unfortunate young woman probably will not improve very much if she has a head injury and unless her behavior is curtailed she will continue to upset the tranquility of the other residents. She has probably always been like this so her injury is just a continuation of her usual thoughtlessness. Don't feel guilty or ashamed of your behavior. The owners of the home new or not should have been aware of this themselves and however well meaning it points to their lack of training and experience so you need to be very aware of this and how your mother is treated.
It is kind of like an older couple retiring and thinking it would be a wonderful idea to run a bed and breakfast in some exotic location. I wonder how long some of them last. you did the absolute right thing and don't have your question removed others always learn from posters experiences good or bad. I bet some one here is thinking right now"Wish I had thought about that sooner" Mom can't stand Dr Phil. sorry Dr Phil I know you do a good job but people are allowed their own opinions.
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Shaboopie, hold your horses!

Your concern was for your mother's comfort, and that of the other older residents. That was what prompted you to act.

You did not accuse the lady with the disability - is she recovering from a head injury, or something? - of anything. You asked for consideration *on the part of the home owners/managers* for people who are no less vulnerable than the younger woman.

Do not feel badly for not having known or guessed what prevented this younger lady from acting more considerately. You are not to blame.

And, so, now you know, and now you can make allowances for her behaviour, because now you know it was lack of awareness not lack of manners or thoughtfulness that was involved.

We live and learn. Please, please do not beat yourself for not being omniscient. "... to err is human, to forgive divine." Please forgive yourself, and please accept my thanks at least for a heads-up about checking what the problem is exactly before we decide what to do.
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If I had not let my fear prevent me from communicating with the owner in the first place I might have been made aware that the woman who is convalescing, is doing so in a care center because she has cognition issues. If I had not been so ignorant, I might have arrived at that conclusion without being told.
My mother raised me to be kind, generous and make allowances for anyone facing such challenges in daily life, to celebrate our differences and to never judge a book by the cover. What appeared to me as thoughtlessness and inconsideration was nothing of the kind.
Although I believe elder care facilities should have established guidelines for media, I regret posting this question on line and request that it be removed. However, if it isn’t I will be comforted knowing that someone may benefit and learn from my mistake.
My mother would be appalled that anyone should be inconvenienced or made to feel badly for the sake of her comfort. If she had the capacity to be aware of my lapse in judgement she would be almost as angry and ashamed of me as I am with myself.
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And this;


Although your loved one is suffering from dementia, you want to keep as much of his or her life the same as possible. For many people, this includes watching television during their free time.
However, as your loved one’s disease progresses, you should monitor what they are watching on TV and how it is affecting them. Television shows can lead to agitation in your loved one. This anxiety can carry over into their sleeping routine and cause insomnia, night mares, and wandering.
Many of the shows on TV can be disturbing and scare a person with dementia. Even if he or she loved crime shows and watched them for years, as the dementia progresses, he or she may begin to have trouble deciphering what is real and what is fiction. Dramas too can be disturbing. Programs that have people arguing or contain loud background music can negatively affect individuals with dementia. News programs can also be frightening. A person with Alzheimer’s may believe that a war is happening in their neighborhood, instead of a continent away, or that a crime being reported in another city is in their neighborhood.
Watching TV can also prove to be a frustrating experience for a person with dementia. As their cognitive abilities become more limited, it is hard to follow the plot lines of a show and keep track of the characters’ names.
Instead of giving your loved one free reign with the remote control, you may consider monitoring what they watch by providing them with DVDs. Several product lines of DVDs made specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers are available online at or Some DVDs have beautiful nature scenes accompanied by music and are designed to create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere for your loved one. Others are created to hold the attention of person with Alzheimer’s disease by talking to the viewer directly and talk about different cultures and traditions to prompt reminiscing or lead sing-a-longs and light exercise.
While your loved one is enjoying a DVD, you can take a break yourself or catch up on doing things around the house. If you know a family with an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, a DVD such as this would make a nice gift.
A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.
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Found this online, hope it helps
Television Watching and Dementia
What's the default for a lazy day for many older adults? We’ve seen this happen many times, in care homes and in their own homes seniors are constantly watching hours of mindless TV. This is the crutch for many elderly, who can't find activities to do.
Watching TV is not necessarily a bad thing, and can be a useful tool to engage the mind for a little while. However, it needs to be used appropriately to reap benefits.
If TV watching is done all day, everyday, and the shows are mindless noise, the brain is not used for thinking, it becomes inactive and the images are become an abstraction. Hours of TV watching makes a person with dementia passive, allowing the disease more opportunity to ravage an already declining brain – we even call this mindless TV watching.
You can have a purposeful TV watching session though. If there is an interesting show or two that you can set aside time to watch, that becomes a productive activity and very engaging. Why? Because your mind is willing to understand and think and be engaged for the time it’s watching a TV show. Many mysteries are good to watch, although for many people who have late stages of Alzheimer’s disease a complicated show may bother them as they will not be able to follow it properly.

Also, many people with dementia can mistake TV shows for reality. This can bring about fear and misconception. Turning the TV off at this time would be idea. Therapeutic reasoning™ may also be needed to return them to ease. (Reasoning which is logical to the person and which results in a calm feeling.)

Look at the televisions shows list and choose some purposeful shows for your loved one to watch. Consider the sounds and pace of the show. Sometimes watching something over stimulating on TV can bring on anxiety. Seeing this happen may indicate time for other activity idea to fill the day. Try coming up with other creative ideas to keep their (and your) brain stimulated. If you need any suggestions, feel free to send us a note, as we would be happy to assist.
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Back when my Mom was living in long-term-care, she had her own TV to use, and the facility had a large screen TV in the common area.   No one else was using the TV so I was channel surfing and landed on cable news.   One of the nurses requested that we have no cable news as that will upset the patients, especially one particular cable news station.

Yet, there were times I saw the TV set for a station that had a violent movie playing.... go figure.

Shaboopie, I would approach the subject with the new owner as a curiously question.   Like asking "just curious, what are rules for the residents for using the common TV?"   "Does the majority rule as to what is being watched?" or "is it first come, first serve?".
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I feel for you. Intrusive television is my personal idea of the ultimate nightmare, and the thought of your poor mother having to sit there listening to baying, shrieking audiences, canned laughter and - well, let's gloss over the bonking soap opera people...

This is an incredibly delicate situation, but it is a challenge that the home owner-managers will have to rise to. Put the ball very firmly in their court.

One thing they can explain to the younger convalescent is that, even though her elder companions may not seem to be taking much interest in the t.v. and don't openly object, they still need extra consideration because they're not able to get up and leave if they want to, and the constant noise is also going to inhibit whatever remaining communication they can manage. If she objects, they can remind her of her other options: headphones during her choice of programmes, which she can have the courtesy to check everyone else is happy with; or watching whatever she likes in her room.

But what is not okay is for them to cross their fingers and wait for her to leave. Your mother and the three other elder residents have every right to enjoy their fair share of recreational choices when they want them, and peace and quiet when they don't.

Be polite and be fair, but don't take any excuses. I nearly typed "prisoners" - but that would have been a Freudian slip.

What is appropriate viewing is a different matter; and I'm not sure anyone has any business dictating what's suitable for people who've encountered in their long lives more blood, guts, foul language and, er, friendliness than we've had hot dinners. My mother loved Midsomer Murders best of all, but she also startled my daughters by insisting on a programme called "8 Out Of 10 Cats" - which she mistakenly thought was about cats. Not to mention the Graham Norton Show.

Sometimes you just don't know where to look...
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You will never please everyone when it comes to TV. I personally have stopped watching the "boob tube" and don't miss it at all, and after being away from it when I do see a program I realize how tired and inane they all are. I would suggest that there be no TV in the main room, the central areas should be left for chatting or quite companionship. Those who want to watch can have their own sets in each room instead.
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