According to figures published in the Independent, the average Brit watches around 27 hours of TV a week. For people living with health issues like dementia, this figure is often much higher.
Many people turn to TV for entertainment and companionship when they’re unable to get out and get active or spend time with friends and family. And while this might help to fill the time, and make people feel less alone, it can be damaging for mental and physical health. So is TV useful or harmful for dementia? Keep reading to find out.
There’s no denying that good TV can be fantastic entertainment. Well-made documentaries, comedies and dramas can be thought-provoking and can help to keep dementia sufferers connected to the outside world. Having a schedule of regular programmes to watch can also help dementia sufferers to feel like they’re in a routine, while familiar characters and storylines can aid memory recall.
TV and memory loss
While watching a couple of hours of TV a day can be beneficial and relaxing, watching too much can have a negative effect on those suffering from dementia. According to research published by AgeUK, people aged over 50 who watch more than 3.5 hours of TV a day are more likely to suffer from memory loss than those who watch less.
According to the scientists who carried out the research, ‘Television is a bit of unusual activity for the brain because you’ve got lots of bright and fast-moving images so your brain is very alert but at the same time it is quite a passive activity to engage in and this has been shown to lead to a less-focused brain.’
Finding the right balance
As with most things in life, watching TV comes down to balance. While all of us can enjoying sitting down to watch a film or an episode of our favourite soap, sitting in front of the box hour after hour, day after day can cause memory loss and have a negative impact on our general wellbeing.
If you care for someone living with dementia, try to ensure they get out and about at least once a day. Take them to a local café, visit the cinema, go to the park or find a dementia-friendly activity group to join. When you’re at home, look for alternatives to TV.
You could go outside and do some gardening together, bake a cake, look through old family photos or listen to some of your favourite albums. Mixing up your activities in this way will help to make your days more varied and provide your loved one with the stimulation they need.
You can find out more about living with dementia, and about the help and support that’s available in your area, by exploring our site or getting in touch with a member of our team.