Advice For Seniors

By Doug Mayberry

October 8, 2012 4 min read

Q: Since our retirement, my husband has become addicted to television. He gets up, goes to the bathroom, sits at the breakfast table and turns on the TV. Two or three times a day, I ask him to turn it off. He ignores me. I leave the house as often as I can because I cannot stand it. He does not exercise and is losing his muscles. I love him and want him to be with me for as long as he can. How can I encourage him to change his habits?

A: Studies by experts confirm your experience. The average senior watches TV up to eight or nine hours every day.

Why? TV can be considered a form of company, a way to escape guilt, a relief from loneliness, an opportunity to forget problems, gratification, excitement and a variety of other needs. Many men use it to relive their own athletic experiences.

TV is easily available and does not require much effort. Watching it requires little social interaction, too. It is also a way to compare and defend oneself from competitive actions while keeping you current about news.

The lack of exercise can become a major health factor. Various excuses are given for not exercising, including overall poor health, pain, the fear of falling, no desire to change, alcohol, medications and anger.

Discuss possible options with your husband's doctor, religious adviser and male friends, who may be experiencing a similar problem. Group therapy is also healthy.

Recently, while running around the block, I passed by a neighbor walking with a cane. He commented, "I wish I could still do that." That brings reality home.

Q: Now that our parents have settled in retirement, they appear to be reborn. They have worked hard, have earned their keep and are now having fun after raising a wonderful family. They are grateful for good health and happiness. However, on occasion, when we visit, they express some guilt about spending their assets, because they see that other family members could use a little financial help. We try to minimize those thoughts.

We do not begrudge their happiness and totally agree it is their turn to be enjoying life. In fact, we insist they do so. How can we help them get over their self-guilt?

A: Tell them how much pleasure you are receiving by simply sharing their happiness. Thank them for sharing and guiding you to the level you now share with your own families. Remind them of all that they did for you and of all the love and time that already has been expressed through the generations. Not every family has had that opportunity or will experience that.

Tell them to spend their money, to continue to enjoy their independence and how lucky you are to have them for parents. Share with them how much you are enjoying how happy and enthusiastic they are and that that makes you equally as happy. Love, laugh and play every day. You cannot over-say "I love you."

When it is expressed to you, respond, "I love you more!"

Doug Mayberry's weekly column, "Dear Doug," can be found at creators.com.

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