“Good morning, Miss E it’s time to get up.”
“I think I’ll stay in bed.”
“Okay then we will have our bath in bed today.”
“Oh I dont want to do that. I better get up.”
“What if I let you stay in bed a little longer. I will give your your meds in bed.”
“That sounds like a very good idea. Thank you for understanding.”
By the time Ms E got up she was ready to seize the day. Slowly…
Exercise is important for the elderly. We have to understand even if these people were athletes that the movements are going to be slower or less vigorous. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing people who do marathons at 80. They are the exception to the rule, however.
Exercise for Ms E is: getting up out of bed, transferring (a few steps) to a wheelchair, wheeling herself to her chair and with assistance getting up and into her chair. She gets up every two hours. We also do a series of small hand movements – to remind her Parkinson’s muscles what they do. She moisturizes her face and her arms each day. Everyday we do chair exercises. For now she is able to do those exercises but as she gets weaker I will do those exercises passively. The passive exercises may not use much energy but it prevents constriction – this is where the bone actually seems frozen in one position.
Exercise for Mr R is different. At 90 he is still walking 1 mile twice a day. We used to go for longer hikes; now we do several “turns” around the neighborhood. We also do 30 minutes of leg and arm exercises. I use bands that the PT gave him as well as a ball and a fabric frisbee. Mr R slowed down after having a stroke. It’s because of his athleticism, good diet,and great family support that he recovered so quickly.
Bands (which have different amounts of tension) are great for exercising arms and legs. I dont like using weights because of stability. If my patient drops a 3 pound weight on his foot he could break a toe or several bones in his foot.
Make it fun. Mr R was competitive so he loves when I make it a competition. We keep score of the number of time he kicks the soft ball into the goal. We measure the distance we can throw the frisbee. Though Mr R has Alzheimer’s, his body remembers the activities; once we start our exercises (in the same order each day) his body reminds his mind of the routine.
Most of my elderly women are reluctant to do exercise. My back strengthening exercises where we stand as straight as we can then is not a competition. We are princesses standing as tall as we can. We are ballerinas stretching our legs and arms gracefully.
Each patient is an individual. We need to keep him or her moving at her speed for as long as possible.
A trick I am learning with Parkinson’s is every motion counts no matter how small and how long it takes. No matter our condition using our muscles using energy. My theory is pent up energy creates frustration. More on this for the letter “P”
Happy Monday to each of you especially April A to Zers.
What are doing for exercise during this Co-Vid quarantine? Any exercises that have worked for you with elderly friends/family?