Exercise Program for Elderly Parent


My dad is 74 years old and has rheumatoid arthritis. My mother told me that he is having trouble standing/walking because his legs are so weak. He was using the walking trail close to their home but was having problems with his legs giving out and he would fall. She wanted to get him a treadmill or a stationary bike. I'm not sure what to suggest since he has never really "exercised" that I know of. He isn't sedentary - just not into fitness.

Any suggestions/advise?


My grandfather did chair aerobics at the local senior center until he was 97 years old (I think he only did it for the doughnuts they handed out afterward!). He rode a 3 wheeled bike 2.5 miles back and forth to his volunteer job at the center; however, he needed a cane for walking to keep from fatiguing. He also enjoyed the rowing machine because he could watch TV while he exercised. Perhaps your parents' local senior center has some options available?
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My parents' medicare insurance plan included something called Silver Sneakers at a local gym. Some people did the exercises standing and some sitting. They went a few times but it was never at a "convenient" time for them. Then my mom fell a month ago and broke her hip. She's doing her leg therapy exercises in a chair but she's still extremely weak. Good luck getting your dad to help himself. I'm having a hard time getting my parents out of their comfort zone.


Do you have the option of taking your dad to a Physical Therapist for a consultation, perhaps one that focuses on geriatric care? They would be able to give you a lot of help on what would work for your dad given his specific set of circumstances. My mom cared for my great-uncle who was going through Alzheimer's and during that process he developed very limited mobility. Having him consult with a PT every few months to give guidance on how to combat that was extremely helpful to her.

If he's having trouble with falling, I would be hesitant to get him a treadmill, he might hurt himself.:( It's hard for fully mobile folks to get off and on those sometimes.



All of these are good suggestions - I wanted to particularly second the chair aerobics suggestion. My Mom had polio when she was young and as a result has a very weak leg that gets worse as she gets older, so aerobics involving the lower body (just walking long distances is hard) is out for her.

I don't know if your Dad would be into it, but I have gotten a couple of chair aerobics DVDs for my Mom that she really enjoys. There is an RN named Mary Ann Wilson that has a "sit and be fit" series on PBS. I got Mom the season 8 (Amazon.com: Sit and Be Fit - Season Eight: RN Mary Ann Wilson: Movies & TV) because on Mary Ann's website it suggested this disc for people who had polio. If you google her "sit and be fit" website, she has several dvds suggested for arthritis. I also got her a chair yoga DVD from the "stronger seniors" program, which has several DVDs.

Hope this helps, good luck with your Dad.


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