by Kaye Swain
When my senior dad developed Parkinsons' Disease, he quietly determined to keep active and keep walking. He kept that up until his last year with us - golfing, walking, and occasionally, swimming. Even when he had to be confined to a wheelchair, we would head to the mall almost daily to walk around it a few times in climate-controlled comfort - dodging the many moms and strollers who were after the same goals - staying active and staying healthy.
Nowadays, my senior mom keeps to the same plan, only for her it's walking and gardening activities. However, extreme temperatures (both snow and heat), air quality and allergy issues, medication side effects, and some health issues are making it so much more difficult for her to stay active.
She does enjoy walking on a treadmill in water at her therapy center but at most that's only one-two days a week. And with their schedule changes, our schedule changes, and health issues, those sessions are getting much less frequent. After thinking about it long and hard, she finally decided it was time to buy a treadmill.
We did a ton of research, doublechecked with her doctor (always a wise course of action before any major change for our elderly parents), and placed the order. After a few days the delivery arrived, the installers put it together in a matter of minutes, and there it was! A huge, somewhat intimidating machine in our living room. Fortunately, she never had a chance to be scared of it as the grandkids came to visit and fell in love with it.
She and I "trained them" how to properly use it, supervised them carefully, and enjoyed seeing them walk away on that treadmill, safety clip and all. And then, they encouraged great-grandma to show them how SHE did on it. With that kind of an audience, who could say no! Especially when she was dying to try it. So up she went, cheered on by the grandkids, and she did great as well.
It's been a week, and no one has gotten tired of it yet. And I am thrilled to see her using it daily. She commented this morning that after only ten minutes outside, she came in feeling a bit breathless - a normal state nowadays, primarily due to the weather, humidity, and smog. But now it's OK, because later she got on the treadmill and had a nice workout with no problems.
With so many studies showing how important exercise is for all ages, and especially for seniors - mentally, physically, and emotionally - this is turning out to be one of the best investments she could make in her own health. And it's also a great gift for me - both because she will be healthier and because I will be using it too, when I'm not busy running around the yard with the grandkids, of course. It's perfect for our whole Sandwich Generation family!
Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.