Husband can’t watch TV: My husband (almost 70) is... - Headway


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Husband can’t watch TV


My husband (almost 70) is just past a year since his cardiac arrest and anoxic brain injury. His biggest problem is a virtual absence of short term memory, plus confabulation. He needs 24/7 supervision.

As you all know, TBI typically has phases, symptoms/behaviors that can be intense, then fade, then on to the next one. Lately he’s been very uncomfortable about watching TV. I’ll be watching tv from the bed, leaning against a pillow, and he can’t do the same next to me. He lies on his side with his back toward the set, just listening to it, but unwilling and unable to WATCH and unable to explain the reason for the discomfort. It seems related to a fear of heights and anxiety about high windows, but now it’s discomfort with ANY tv visuals.

Needless to say, this has robbed us of a big source of entertainment and there’s already such limited stuff we can do together :(. Anybody else experience this? Did it go away? Has anything helped?


12 Replies

I get a lot of enjoyment from listening to audiobooks. I find it difficult to read now, on my he bus fine but havent the patience at home. But i can listen to an audiobook for well over an hour.


CassandraDee in reply to Kirk5w7

Thanks, Janet!


This is a really good thing to do with my wife and I as she can only watch TV for upto 25 to 30 minutes due to over stimulation effects making it uncomfotable and distressing. It has got better over time and i guess it might continue too.

We use a postal service provider for story CD's, they are called listening books. We select titles online and they post them out and then simply return when your done. I managed to get a free subscription for a year, so it could be worth a try, I highly recommend them.


I get that, I never used to, I could watch the same programme over and over, partly because I couldn't remember it. But eventually I got to know each programme.

I find that sometimes, although I might be interested in the subject of the programme, watching and listening is too much stimulus. This is relatively new for me, and nine years after my hiccup. I sometimes have to have the volume turned down to just about audible. Complete silence is torture.

A lot of symptoms come and go, no rhyme or reason, and I doubt your husband can make sense of it.

Over the nine years I've been through a whole raft of different things that are too much. I used to have to wear a blackout blindfold and ear defenders at times, I don't need either now.

A year is not a long time when it comes to the brain, and you may find things change over time.

Thanks so much, Boots, that’s helpful and reassuring...

Also... happy to report that his agoraphobia has gotten a LOT better since the last time I posted :)!

Id almost forgotten, I used to find it difficult to watch TV at first. I can't really explain it, I found it confusing and disorienting. Now I quite like watching TV though I find it hard to concentrate. I pause it frequently and get up and make a drink or look out the window, and I tend to have the radio on at the same time and I'll be looking at my phone.

I hope your husband will feel able to watch TV again with you.

Thanks! It helps to imagine it from this perspective. He seems to find it disorienting in ways he can't explain. I've decided his fear is partly that he'll be ambushed by something he doesn't want to see (aerial views REALLY bother him.)

What sort of tv? I find a lot of well daytime tv or crime dramas which my wife loves far too much, essentially overwhelming both in sound and visual.

But I can watch much more mellow stuff for hrs, I find films equally hard work, though I do love them.

Hi Rodger, for me its interesting you say that. My wife with her BI is exactly the same. Something light like, Friends, Big Bang Theory, Frasier or even Dads army is fine. Its a struggle sometimes to find a decent programme on TV, the iPlayer or other similar systems are good though for those of us who are in bed earlier than others or having to rest in the day it allows you to then watch a programme at a more suitable time.

Makes sense! Thanks, Roger. Complicated plots are impossible for him to follow since his BI, with no short term memory at all. But for awhile he was okay with sports, concerts, some reality TV. This new phase seems more about fear of what might pop up. He is freaked out by scenes shot from high up, mountains, rooftops. It will hopefully resolve with time! Thanks again!

Hi there. I had a stroke mimic in 2016. Just after I couldn't bear to watch TV or even listen to music. It was really hard to explain as I have always loved both things. But suddenly I just felt really irritated by them. These feelings did subside eventually though and now am back to doing everything I used to do.

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