Caregivers, You Don’t Have to Hit the Gym to Feel Good

May 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm 1 comment

If someone told me I should work out while I was at the height of caregiving my mom, I would have laughed. My mom’s Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Sundowner’s Syndrome (when they get their days and nights mixed up) was more than enough of a work out. That would have been my argument, but the truth was that I gained almost 30 pounds during my full-time in our home caregiving experience.

Stress. Cortisol. Exhaustion. I had every reason to exercise, but I didn’t see it that way. It was a matter of what I believed.

I believed exercise would take too long.

I believed my mom would interrupt me to the point it would just be frustrating.

I believed I was too tired.

Caregivers are great at coaxing. We have to be.

We coax Dad into giving us the car keys. We coax Mom into using her walker. We coax our spouse into holding our arm when walking down the stairs. We speak gently. We sound encouraging. The tone of our voice convinces our care buddy that this is no big deal, easy as pie–and it is when you’ve got someone coaxing you along.

I decided to use that coaxing technique on myself.

I’m not exercising, I’m just moving.

Turn on some music and just dance.

Take some deep breaths and enjoy stretching.

Why don’t you buy some small hand weights–just for fun?

Ten minutes in the morning, that’s all I’m going to do.

My goal is to feel good, that’s all.

That inner-coaxer worked!

I felt so much better just moving a bit. The music lifted my spirits–and my mom’s. I found that my mom liked to watch me exercise. She “instructed” me, and before long, she was trying to show me how to do it.

“Is it time for stretches?” My mom asked one morning after breakfast.

Yes Mom, time for stretches.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving, sundown syndrome. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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