Seniors Watch the Most Television!

Some people question the use of Television for elders.  Their claim is that it is not mentally stimulating, and that we should be engaging with these individuals; that it is electronic babysitting.

Of course social interaction is important to any person, not just aging individuals.  But there is a problem with this perspective in the caregiver setting, especially for those in the senior venture community.

The problem is that seniors watch the most television out of any users, on a per person basis, according to the new Nielsen Cross Platform Report for June 2013.  This quarterly report details television use across multiple platforms (devices).

Seniors (65+), as always, watch the most TV content per person, per month – 227 hours per month, compared to 133 hours for the 25-34 demographic.   The reason is fairly obvious – as we age, we loose our ability and sometimes desire to do activities, and unfortunately, we become less able physically and mentally, and some become home bound.

Television offers people access to the rest of the world: we watch our favorite programs; experience live events; keep connected to politics and cultural events; and watch otherwise mentally stimulating content from DiscoveryScienceHistory and PBS.

Caregivers know first hand the challenges with the television.  It reduces people who were very smart and articulate in their lives, into becoming dependent on another person to turn on the device –  a humiliating experience!  It also wastes the time of the caregiver, who, instead of taking care of other priorities, has to constantly fix the television, sometimes driving 30-40 minutes each way, at odd times of the day.

It’s time that the business side of aging – the nursing home and assisted living administrators, the health insurers, like United Health, the advocates, like AARP and The Alzheimer’s Association, and the venture capitalists take notice of how people actually spend their time, instead of burying their head in the sand and pretending that ether this market does not exist, or that elders “should” do something else, for one day, the shoe will be on the other foot, and their actual needs and desires will be ignored.

Fiona Sloan