My father thinks people and events on TV are real and he often wants to interact with them? What should I do?

There have been people with Alzheimer’s who have refused to do something until getting an answer from a TV character; others have thought music shows are actual concerts. This has worried family members, who have wondered whether they should cut off TV watching altogether for their loved one.

But you have to think it over: Is this causing any harm? This is not an uncommon behavior for someone with Alzheimer’s. You have to weigh what the TV situations might be doing to your loved one. Does watching TV become distressing, or are the characters and stories seen as friendly? Often, it’s the latter, and you can never have too many friends!

If TV scenarios and people become threatening to your father, then you must limit how much TV he watches. If there is a TV in his room, you can remove it. Odds are, it isn’t doing much good for him if stress is involved. If or when he sees other residents watching TV, his attention can be redirected toward other activities.

If he’s not living at home, talk with the staff at his care facility and let them know of your concerns. Tell them you would like to have his TV time limited. They can help redirect him toward bingo or other activities instead.

If there winds up being no TV in his room, ask staff members to take him to one of the facility’s common areas to watch a favorite show(s) there. If there is a VCR or DVD player, you can bring programming that you have purchased or rented so he can view it.