Senior Home Care Blog - Western Cook & Eastern DuPage Counties

Is the News Making You Sick?

By Mary L. Doepke, RN

Five Ways to Unplug and Unwind

Do you feel stressed after listening to the day’s political news? You’re not imagining it. Political stress is a real thing that afflicts many as Election Day approaches.

It isn’t hard to understand how or why the negativity of a political campaign could leave a person agitated, depressed and even hopeless. But consider the senior who spends his or her day watching and listening to the television. Their days are filled with a barrage of negative, often confusing messages that are almost sure to leave them feeling down, and perhaps even angry.

Those who already struggle with depression or anxiety are likely to feel even worse after listening to the negative ads, personal attacks and accusations that fill the news these days. Some even think that 24-hour news channels and the internet have produced something called news addiction.

It’s not new to this election cycle. Filmmaker Jen Senko’s movie, “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” explores how her father transformed from a loving man to a hostile and isolated fanatic after becoming immersed in political rhetoric via his radio and television. The film debuted last summer at Michael Moore’s Michigan film festival and is now available on video and on demand.

While it is understandably important for older adults to feel connected and informed about what is going on in the world, too much of anything can be harmful. Here are a few tips for helping your client or loved one curb their news addiction, and rediscover the good that surrounds them.

1. Change the subject

You know the saying about religion and politics. If political discussions are becoming too common, or too combative, simply change the subject. When your dad starts blaming the president for his gas bill, bring up that new restaurant down the street or your town’s plans to fix its roads. In other words, switch gears to something positive.

2. Substitute a laugh

When you walk into your parents’ home to find CNN blasting in the background, suggest switching the channel to a classic sitcom or funny movie. A mini-marathon of “The Honeymooners” is sure to leave them feeling better than an afternoon of commentary about the election.

3. Go for a walk

If possible, turn off the TV and get outside. Fresh air and exercise are good for both of you. Just be sure to have a few conversation starters on hand in order to avoid a discussion of the latest campaign ad.

4. Crank up the Jukebox

Or iPod, as the case may be.  Music has the ability to bring people back to a simpler, happier time. Sit with your client or loved one and enjoy songs from their younger years. They’ll be singing along in no time.

5.Plan an outing

When is the last time you and your parent visited the local zoo, the public library or your favorite lunch spot? Plan a day out and remind your loved one that there is life beyond the television.