Entertaining Grandpa
September 4, 2014 9:43 AM   Subscribe

My Grandfather is almost 93 and legally blind. Help me keep him entertained!

Sometimes he surprises me by reading something on the television but other times he can't see a thing. We have all sorts of funny vision things in the family so there are a lot of contributing factors to this. Anyway, he spends 85% of his time in front of the television. I love nothing better than to see him enjoying something because I worry that he gets bored and therefore depressed. He loves things that are PG and especially things that he is familiar with from his past. I have Hulu Plus and Netflix and am looking for television shows or movies that he would enjoy. Often I'll put something on and realize that in order to follow/enjoy it you would need to be able to see details that he obviously can't make out. Has anyone else had this problem or have any suggestions? We've exhausted Frasier, The Laurence Whelk show, Wings, Doc Martin...
posted by unicornologist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you considered just loading up a bunch of podcasts on a topic he's interested in? I know it ins't TV but he can sit in the same chair...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

House? CSI?

They're pretty easy to follow since they explain the action as they work out the puzzle du jour.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:51 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there a reason you're not going back to radio shows? They tell the same stories as TV shows but obviously do not utilise vision for story telling. Here's a list of 300 of them from the 1940s. There are lists for the 30s, 50s and 60s, when the popularity of radio shows began a serious decline. Or you know, pillage this list; your local library should be able to help you borrow a chunk of these CDs.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:53 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Monk. While it may show you things, they also super explain everything so if he misses seeing a clue he'll hear about it.
posted by wwax at 10:06 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about an audio computer game?
posted by Sophont at 10:35 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Would he enjoy audiobooks or old-fashioned radio programs?

Public libraries often have books on CD (or, rarely now, tape) and many have digital catalogs, like Overdrive or Hoopla.

I've found that the publisher Full Cast Audio always has phenomenal productions. It's like listening to a play, but with a great narrator, which can make the transition from TV to books easier. Everything's billed as family-friendly, so there's a lot of kid's stuff to sort through, but the Classics section is a good start.

As for old school radio, the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas are pretty cool. I've also found some BBC radio dramas (Shakespeare, Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky), and a few other famous works (War of the Worlds) through my library's digital collection, so there's probably a fair amount of it floating around.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely look into podcasts. You could burn some good ones on to CD and get him a Discman with big chunky buttons.
posted by radioamy at 11:14 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hook him up with a local or streaming Radio Reading Service. They read print materials (newspapers, periodicals, novels, etc) on a special station for print-impaired users.

They tend to focus more on news and information but would still be a great addition to your grandfather's entertainment options.
posted by stefanie at 11:36 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some shows are broadcast with an audio description track you can access by changing your TVs settings. Might expand the things he's able to watch.

Also, what about books on tape. A subscription to Audible.com or even your local library might be helpful there. Also, e-book readers can be set to text to speech to have books read aloud (there are some copyright issues with some, but just as another option).

The National Federation of the Blind (or your local state chapter) is also a great resource for ideas about technology and media that make all kinds of things accessible for folks with visual impairments.
posted by goggie at 12:29 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about old movies where he may already know the plot, but are great fun to watch again and again. I'm thinking of the screwball comedies with Jean Arthur and Carey Grant, maybe the Marx Brothers and W.C Fields.

My next door neighbor is 90 and I sort of split my Netflix with her, get one DVD for her, next for me, like that. So I get her like two a week. She loves getting them and I have a good time trying to surprise her with movies she'll like. I strike out sometimes, but by and large do pretty good.

She likes new and old things, which makes it easier, last week she had "American Hustle" and the 1950 comedy "Born Yesterday" (a hilarious movie) with Julie Holiday, and loved both. Some of the old ones she liked were "Gunga Din", "Talk of the Town", "My Favorite Wife", "Bringing Up Baby" (she likes Carey Grant), "African Queen", "Casablanca", "Treasure of Sierra Madre", your dad has to know many of them, fun and easy to follow.

You might pick some actors he likes and run through their movies. Just some ideas.
posted by PaulBGoode at 2:10 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about music from the 1930s and 1940s? Sirius XM has such stations, but I'm sure there are free options elsewhere.
posted by grateful at 2:31 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

youtube has tons of songs from his teenage and young adult years. Take him on a tour:
posted by at at 3:46 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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