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Does Dotty Have Alzheimer's Disease? Exercise and Filming at the Gym

Posted Dec 06 2010 8:51am
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Previously I wrote, Does Dotty Have Alzheimer's Disease? (Part 1) . In that article, I discussed how some people are wondering, actually doubting, if Dotty has Alzheimer's disease. You can read up by following the link if you missed the article.


Yesterday, Dotty spent part of the day being video taped. This took place in part for some television interviews I will doing tomorrow.

Dotty was taped in the gym, at the Banana Boat, and down near the beach here in Delray Beach.

In some ways it was a real head scratcher for me. What can I say, Dotty is a champion.

To put this in context. For most of the day unless you were paying close attention, you might have wondering to yourself -- does Dotty have Alzheimer's disease?

Let me clarify. For much of the day I was thinking, I wonder if the people filming this think that Alzheimer's disease caregiving is a walk in the part?

The day started at Palm Beach Gym and Fitness Center here in Delray Beach. This is our new gym by the way if you decide to come look for us.

First stop the treadmill. Dotty gets on and I start the machine going. Dotty starts walking. These days Dotty usually goes for a minute or two before stopping the machine. Not on this day. She goes five and one half minutes non-stop. I even put her on an incline and speed up the treadmill a few times. I ask Dotty all the way -- are you getting tired? Does anything hurt? Dotty assured me repeatedly that everything was fine.

When she finishes I ask the film producer. How far do you think she walked. She answers, about a half of a mile. I wish. My answer, slightly over a block. There are approximately 12 blocks in a mile. Don't get the wrong idea. I am happy. But if Dotty could walk a mile in five and one half minutes, we wouldn't need a treadmill. It would be Mall time.

For the next exercise, we do the sit down, stand up exercise. This is where I seat Dotty on the end of a workout bench and assist her while she stands up with her back up straight, pauses, and then sits back down. This exercise is a variation of a dumbbell tap squat. The exercise is designed to strengthen your back and hamstrings.

In Dotty's case this exercise is designed to strength her back and hamstrings. However, it is also designed to improve her balance, improve her confidence, and increase her trust in me.

Dotty improves her balance by repeatedly (in 12 rep sets) standing up and sitting down. On the first rep or two she usually looks over her shoulder to be sure the bench is going to be there when she sits back down. I gently reassure her not to worry, that the bench is there and that I won't let her fall. She stops looking over her shoulder and trusts me. This might not seem like much on the surface, but this is how you reinforce to the Alzheimer's patient that the living environment is safe and secure. This exercise improves trust and rapport between the Alzheimer's caregiver and the Alzheimer's patient.

Here is the best thing about this exercise. When I first came to Delray Beach to take care of Dotty she was falling down constantly. She once fell and broke her pinkie finger. Another time, I found here lying in the parking lot. She couldn't get up on her own, and she was shaking like a leaf.

This exercise along with some flat Aerosoles shoes cured this problem -- Aerosoles, Alzheimer's and Falling. Dotty has not fallen, not a single time, in six years.

Finally, we go and do the chest machine. Dotty is firing away doing one chest pull after another. No problem. They actually start filming the weight as it is going up and down. I think to myself -- I am making Dotty look like a wimp. The weight is set on 20 pounds. I wanted to make it easy for the filming. I know Dotty can do 30 pounds no problem. More, but I am afraid her shoulder might separate or something. Sorry Dotty. My 94 year old is no wimp.

During the trip to the gym and while doing the exercises we get no NO's from Dotty. She didn't complain on the way into the gym. She didn't complain at all. In fact she never said, NO, not even once.

Of course, I am also explaining to Dotty for several days that she is going to be a star in a movie. She likes this idea. She wonders if she is going to get on TV or become famous? Of course, each time I bring this up its the first time I am telling Dotty (for her). She seems to really like this idea.

So far on this day of filming, Dotty does not really present any of the signs of Alzheimer's disease to the untrained eye. I find myself thinking, maybe I can find a way to make every experience more like this one. I'm a dreamer.

More on the day of filming in a later article.

Special thanks to Tom Arpei at Palm Beach Gym and Fitness Center in Delray Beach . Follow the link if you want to obtain a free, complimentary guest pass.

Alzheimer's Disease -- Advice and Insight
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 2,101 articles with more than 272,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room


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