There's More to Aging Than Watching TV
by Tracy Layden
Your parents have retired and are loving their free time. They particularly enjoy their Netflix queue and are always on top of the latest shows.
TV is a fun way to pass the time, but are your parents (or you) spending too much time on the couch?
Your senior parents will be happier and healthier if they take some time away from the TV. Encourage them to diversify their lifestyle with these alternative pastimes.
Spend time with friends
Your parents and their friends may just need an excuse to get together. Help them set up a weekly event so there is always a fun social activity on their calendar. These activities may be just the push they need to get off the couch.
- Set up a game night. Board games, card games, party games—the possibilities are endless. Give the event a jumpstart by having each member of the group bring their favorite board game to share.
- Start a book club. Do your parents love to read? Encourage them to share their passion by meeting monthly with friends to discuss their latest reads.
- Host trivia nights. See how much your parents remember from the big events of their youth. Test their knowledge of current events and random facts. Your parents will soon be competing with their friends to see who is the ultimate trivia master.
- Dance. Get your parents up and moving by signing them up for dance classes. Most studios offer a series of classes followed by a dance party where they can put their new skills to use.
Spend time with memories
Draw your parents away from the TV by asking them about their past. Ask specific questions to start. What groups did they belong to in high school? What was their first car? How did they meet?
- Look through photo albums. Bring out the old photo albums and ask your parents to tell the stories behind the pictures. You never know what teenage tale they might regale you with!
- Make a scrapbook. Are your parents' old pictures and letters scattered around the attic? Bring them down for Mom and Dad to organize. They can put them together in a scrapbook that can be displayed in the living room.
- Record their stories. Have your parents tell you their stories while you film or record them. Have them create a journal where they record their most memorable moments. Preserve their memories so they can revisit them anytime they want.
Spend time in nature
What's better than sitting on the couch? Getting outside and spending time with Mother Nature. Invite your parents to spend time with you outdoors. One of these activities may just become their new favorite pastime.
- Garden. Help your parents set up a garden. Have them choose their favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables and start planting. Bring some of the greenery inside to brighten their home, and incorporate the edible plants into their meals.
- Walk. Getting exercise can be as simple as walking. When you go to visit, take them out on a walk. Have them show you the neighborhood. Ask them to point out what's changed since you last visited. Enjoy the sights and the fresh air.
- Birdwatch. Buy a birdfeeder, hang it in front of a window and give your parents a pair of binoculars (and maybe a bird guidebook). Every time you call, ask if they've seen any new birds.
Get out and get moving
We call retirement our "golden years" because it is a time to spend how we please. Watching TV can be a fun way to spend that time, but there is more to life than waiting for the next new show.
To help your parents get out of the TV trap, encourage them to try something new. Ask them to join you when you go on adventures. Set up events with their friends that they just can't miss.
With more balance in their lives, TV can be the nice relaxing end to a day full of out-of-the-house fun.
Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.