Nov 17, 2020

The TV habits of aged care residents might surprise you

This article is sponsored content.

TV. We all watch it. We all have a favourite show or series (or two), or an old movie that rekindles fond memories of another time in our lives.

For older people, television can provide mental stimulation and emotional wellbeing, and the opportunity to reminisce and socialise. 

Aged care providers can ensure that when the TV is turned on, residents aren’t just sitting there staring aimlessly at content they are less than interested in, and that programs that are engaging and interesting for them are available. 

Providing a holistic focus in aged care means more than just focusing on physical and medical support for residents. 

Emotional, social and spiritual support is also key to ensuring a high quality of life for older people. This means providing physical and cognitively stimulating entertainment and activities, and giving residents a range of suitable activities and engaging entertainment they can choose from.

Holistic care may include light exercises that focus on motor skills and strength training. It could be a gentle yoga or a sing-along to encourage participation and interaction. For those into art or creativity, it might be an art lesson or a flower arranging class.

And it also includes stimulating programmes on television.

TV viewing behaviours according to research

People aged 65 and older find TV easier to engage with than alternative forms of information and technology because it provides visual and auditory information in a large format. 

In fact, it is the most popular choice of entertainment for older people. TV is so popular among over 65s that recent Foxtel research found the average over-65 year old spent approximately 38 hours each week watching.

Data source: Foxtel

In order for TV to play an effective role in the holistic provision of care, it is important the programs offered are of the highest quality. 

The better the TV entertainment provided to aged care residents, the more engaged and stimulated their minds are, something that can lead to a rekindling of happy and positive memories.

Good-quality TV can also provide a distraction from health conditions that may cause discomfort, stress or pain, can reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety, and generate social interaction when residents watch shows or share a movie night together.

Beyond quality of programming, choice is also a key factor in providing a positive television experience. 

A mix of news, movies, comedy and drama is important. What appeals to one resident, may not be appealing for another, so providing access to a wide selection of programs is key.

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Foxtel research has shown that aged care residents favour news and classic television with shows, like Hogan’s Heroes, Bonanza and M*A*S*H clear favourites. 

Sports channels, where older people can follow their team, be it cricket, AFL or rugby league, are also popular. 

Residents can watch games together, donning their scarves and jerseys to give support to their club.

Remember viewing options into the early hours

It’s also important to note that although television can provide some structure throughout the day, off-peak viewing is also significant for those aged over 80. 

Recent research conducted by Foxtel found that 70 to 80 per cent of viewers aged over 80 regularly watched television between 1am and 4am.


Data source: Foxtel

To meet demand at these times, it’s important this period is not forgotten by program schedulers. 

Classic and new TV shows, news and live sport from abroad, all programming that Foxtel research shows appeals to an older audience, must be made available to meet the needs of older people during these early morning hours.

As aged care remains under intense scrutiny, it is important that residential aged care providers allow for a greater choice of lifestyles services and activities. 

Expectations of a completely holistic approach to aged care must be met with an emphasis on physical, emotional and social wellbeing. 

Television plays a key role in meeting these needs and allows providers to deliver additional services within the confines of limited resources and a need to operate as efficiently as possible.

Foxtel provides an unrivalled selection of quality TV programming to assist with a better offering of lifestyle services within aged care homes. To find out more about offering Foxtel services in your aged care home, visit foxtel.com.au or telephone 1300 760 823.

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  1. Elderly people can find it hard to keep up with the pace and storylines of regular TV shows and the ads can be overwhelming and confusing for them. Is there any material specifically produced to cater for this huge cohort with their specific needs? It would be so helpful if there was.

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