Fitness for the elderly and the almost-elderly

Taking care of an ailing 91-year-old is not a lot of fun. (There – I’ve said it! Call me a lousy ungrateful daughter.) It is an invitation to sleeplessness, depression, overeating, overdrinking, and general couchpotatoeing. Everyone says “take care of yourself” so I have come up with some ideas that I’ve put into practice today, a day when I have no respite. I am getting a bit silly, which is better than other forms of craziness.

First a medical update: Mom’s potassium levels have dropped from “not compatible with life,” to normal, with no treatment. Her extreme discomfort has eased. However, she is very short of breath, increasingly incoherent, fighting nausea and eating almost nothing. She is now too weak to be ornery and I have no one to argue with so I am less ornery as well.

My fitness regime…

  1. I am recommitted to the Lose-It app on my phone, to lose the pounds that give meaning to my resolutions every January. I have now completed almost TWO DAYS! Yay for 4 ounces possibly lost!
  2. Three times today I have abandoned left Mom comfortable on her daybed and gone out for a brisk walk. Fifteen minutes in one direction, and 15 minutes back. I’m only gone 30 minutes at a time, but I get a total of 90 minutes walking for the day. The first trip actually took 45 minutes because I had to stop and buy Gravol and incontinence pads for her, and a bottle of wine for myself. As you know, red wine is an essential part of any healthful routine.
  3. Every 2 hours (or more frequently if I let her) for 16 hours a day, I escort Mom to the bathroom. I hover while she struggles up from her daybed, rests in a sitting position to have a vigorous cough, and then launches her walker. I shuffle behind while she rolls to the bathroom.walker
  4. In the bathroom I help pull down her pants. Hand her a new absorbent pad and take away the used one. While waiting for her to do her business (it takes time), I think about how long I have until I have to use those pads myself. This frightens inspires me to do 10 reps of Kegel exercises while standing by. (Sorry, but I have no image to illustrate this.)
  5. Next time I might also lie down in the hall for few back exercises to help my wonky hip.back
  6. I help Mom stand up, pull up her pants and tuck in all shirts, etc. She needs to rest on a stool before embarking on the trip back to bed. Instead of lurking impatiently, I furtively do calf stretches on the bathroom door jamb. (In our case, the door has been removed to allow easier walker access.) calfstretch
  7. Finally I help her up, follow the walker, and shuffle her into position to plop down on bed again. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.
  8. The final step in my routine is to tell her, around 11 pm, that she is welcome to call me, but NOT just to go to the toilet. I’ve told her that she simply has to accept the fact that I cannot do this all night, and besides, incontinence products are very effective. If she can’t get up on her own, then she’ll have to pee in her pants during the night. Then I go to bed in a room down the hall, and stay in bed for 7 or 8 hours unless I need to pee. (Ha. Ha. Not. Funny.)

This account may not inspire all of you. I can’t imagine why not. But it actually has made me feel positive today. I am trying to make the proverbial lemonade out of the lemons I have. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Here’s an exercise I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I will work on it if I don’t get the chance to sleep tonight.


I need to practice this one

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