The TV Trap - How to Free Your Parents From It

Mind, Body and Soul Suggestions

tai chi for seniors
Exercise programs are just the things to get all of us off of the couch and out of binge watching TV!. Getty Images

There are so many new ways to view television and the industry is exploding. Binge watching is a new term in the vocabulary. For seniors, often alone and bored (even in their senior community), often turn to the TV for distraction, comfort and security. Does this sound familiar? Mom is now retired, and television has become her new pastime. Downton Abbey is great for a weekend couch session, but it’s no way for her to live.

It’s time to encourage her to find some new activities, and you can help ease her nerves by going to events with her. Here’s how to help a parent round out their mind, body and soul and get off the couch watching TV.

Couch gravity can be difficult to overcome! Here are some tips.


Help Mom keep her mind sharp with fun activities that she can do by herself or with friends.

  • Memory games, word games, and brain teasers are fun ways to get the wheels turning. Come up with challenges and goals for her to complete. Make it a game, not a test.
  • Journaling and creative writing are therapeutic. From writing her memoirs to inventing new stories, Mom can express herself any way she chooses. Buy her a typewriter at a flea market and see where her imagination takes her.
  • Computer classes. There is so much to do and learn online. With a group class, Mom can learn the ropes and connect with people her age all over the world. She will love connecting with old friends on social media and seeing what the grandkids are up to.
  • Book club will help Mom discover new stories and will give her a way to engage in a cognitive way. She’ll be more likely to finish the book if she knows her friends are getting together to discuss it. And book club is a good excuse to have tea with friends!


Find what she likes, and before you know it she will be off the couch and rediscovering her own strength.


  • Walking, no matter how far, is good for the body. Help Mom mix up her routes so she can enjoy new sights. She can explore the neighborhood and local parks, or head indoors and tour the mall. Look into advocacy walks. She can gather a group of her friends, exercise and raise money for charity at the same time!
  • Geocaching turns daily walks into a treasure hunt. Using a GPS unit, Mom can hunt down hidden ‘caches.’ There are caches all over the world. She will love how people many are in her neighborhood. If Mom loves puzzles and being outdoors, geocaching is the perfect activity for her. It may even be possible to set up an organized group with friends or a care facility.
  • Low-impact aerobics are easy on the joints but great for health. Look for classes that set these workouts to fun music.
  • Dance is a wonderful pastime for seniors. Mom will love learning the steps and dancing with her friends to her favorite tunes, and she will be working on her balance and strength without even realizing it.
  • Wii Sports make sports accessible and lots of fun. Mom can play by herself or with friends. She will love bowling without having to lift a bowling ball, or playing tennis without having to run.
  • Tai Chi is an art form that improves psychological health and enhances balance. It consists of a series of movements that flow into one another, while focusing on breathing. Tai Chi is “mediation in motion.” Do it enough and Mom’s body will feel great and her stress will melt away.


Here are some ways Mom can unleash her creative side.

  • Music. Pick up the instrument of her youth, or choose something new. Recorder, piano, guitar, and the drums are beginner-friendly instruments to try.
  • Art. Painting, sculpture, pottery-making, collaging, scrapbooking… the possibilities are endless!
  • Theater. Does Mom have a dramatic streak? Look for local community theater groups. Check out your local senior centers for opportunities to perform.
  • Yoga and meditation. Yoga classes or guided mediation sessions will help Mom feel centered.


There’s a lot more to life than flipping channels. Mom may be getting older, but there’s no reason for her to stop expanding her horizons. With your help and guidance, Mom can find new activities that she will love.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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