Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Upper Body Exercises for the Elderly

I regret to report that Bea has not been doing her exercises lately. Marie, the occupational therapist from Gentiva, would not be pleased. She used to come twice a week and provided great motivation. Bea didn’t always feel like exercising but usually complied. I bet there are not many people who can say no to Marie. She is most persuasive.

We do a demonstration one morning for Lisa. Bea sits perched on a chair, which is quite out of the ordinary these days. Her sheets have just been changed. Lisa has "gussied" her up, and Bea still seems to have some energy left.

“Oh, I know!” I say. “Let’s show Lisa your exercises.”

Bea immediately extends her fists in front of her and starts doing a modified row-row-row the boat. She is so cute, rowing away.

One of us does have to help with balance so she won't fall over.

The idea behind the upper body exercises is to keep the blood flowing. This is a desirable goal, given Bea’s bedridden condition.

Here are the exercises Marie suggests:

1.) 3 to 5 abbreviated jumping jacks (very abbreviated!)
2.) 6 to 10 swimming strokes (We would pretend Bea was swimming across Slough Pond to Nancy’s house.)
3.) 2-4 picking fruit (Bea would pick cherries and throw them in an imaginary basket.)
4.) 3-5 rowing a boat (Bea’s favorite)
5.) 3 to 5 touchdowns (Bea raises both fists into the air and cries “Hurray!” while doing her best not to fall over.)
6.) 3-5 karate punches (Bea never did more than 1 for each arm.)

Marie recommends these exercises 3 to 4 times a day.


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