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Watching television in later life: A deeper understanding of TV viewing in the homes of old people and in geriatric care contexts

Wiley InterScience
Publication Date
  • Older Persons
  • Tv Viewing
  • Meaning
  • Routines
  • Geriatric Contexts
  • Certec
  • Social Sciences
  • Medicine And Health Sciences
  • Technology And Engineering
  • Communication
  • Medicine


A secret among staff at nursing homes is that they are often ambivalent about old residents spending so much time watching TV since it is a common cultural perception that it makes the viewer passive. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of reflecting on the TV viewing habits old people bring with them when they move into geriatric care. The findings are based on a study involving qualitative interviews and observations in two nursing home settings – urban and rural – of twenty persons between 82 and 100. The results confirm that TV viewing is far from a passive activity. Instead, it contributes to structuring daily life, to satisfying old peoples’ needs for reflection and contemplation and to remaining socially integrated. As such, TV viewing makes a significant contribution to their capacity to cope with disengagement in old age and can be used as a way of promoting communication and well-being in geriatric care.

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