Caregiver Fitness & Support

Do you take care of a family member or another person who has limited mobility but who might benefit from some basic exercise? Would you like to learn how to help them improve and maintain their movement and flexibility while helping yourself to stay healthier too?

I can help.

At present, there are more than 39 million informal caregivers assisting an adult family member or a close relation in the United States.

Our goal – to help caregivers find a way to get proper exercise, learn about how to better care for themselves, all while helping to maintain the mobility and physical activeness of their charges, without the guilt! I know it can be done because I did it and I will continue to do it for as long as my father is able.

Most informal caregivers have little or no training in health or senior care and often money becomes the primary factor in what services are available. According to Caregiver.Org, a caregiver—sometimes called an informal caregiver—is an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. 

From 2009 until her death in 2011, Gery Deer helped with the full-time care of his mother, Lois, who suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Her illness combined with a fractured hip left her with the mental capacity of a toddler, with little ability to communicate and bed/wheelchair bound. Her care was comprehensive. She required purred food and hand-feeding, she no longer knew what the utensils were used for and had no indicators that she was hungry, thirsty, or in pain, and no way to tell us. Suffice to say, Gery learned a great deal and in a very short time.

Fast forward to 2014, Gery’s father, Gary Sr., had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a couple of years earlier but was stricken with a severe kidney stone problem and after surgery, he required regular assistance at home. The Parkinson’s had advanced to a point where he could no longer safely drive, was losing his manual dexterity, and was increasingly tired and sedentary. For him to remain in his home, he needed to stay as mobile as possible, so we engaged a physical therapist. That was short-lived, however, because insurance would only cover a weekly visit for about a month. I had to do something to keep him moving, so I started taking him to the gym with me.

[Get the backstory:] Dad was by no means a natural at any of this. He never did anything athletic, though his work life on the trucks and farm was very physical, it was not focused on muscle-building or cardio activity, so it took some work to get him onboard. His disease limited his flexibility and movement, but Gery found ways to adapt his physical therapy movements to weighted exercises. Eventually, he started doing many of them during the week, in between gym visits. His disease is still progressing, but we are maintaining his mobility and flexibility as best we can because of this.

By doing the exercises with him, Gery found that the effort was a benefit to both. The byproduct of this for me was an additional, focused, low-impact workout. As a caregiver, Gery had to learn everything on my own – where to find support, resources, handle the household, manage his health care, and more. 

We believe we can help other caregivers to work with their charges to better their health and promote quality of life for everyone involved.

That’s what “Old Nerd in the Gym Fitness” is all about.