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Grandpa Exercising

by Rundy on November 14, 2006

Grandpa has difficulty walking. There are probably three things that contribute; he often has a bad back ache, he has lost a lot of strength in his legs which makes it more laborious to lift his feet, and a result of Alzhiemer’s is the victim eventually forgets how to walk. My cousin M’s other grandfather died as a result of Alzhiemer’s and she says Grandpa is walking just like her other grandfather did before he forgot how to walk. Combined with this is my own observation that when Grandpa is more confused his walking ability becomes worse–sometimes it seems like he forgets how to move forward and must make an effort to remember–leads me to conclude that Grandpa’s primary problem with his walking is a direct result of Alzhiemer’s.

Grandpa is aware of his walking problem, though I am not sure what he thinks is the cause of the problem. He has complained about “Why can’t I lift my feet better?” but I think he imagines it is an actual physical ailment of some type. He knows (at least in his more cognizant moments) that he has Alzhiemer’s but doesn’t always associate his problems with the disease.

Because of Alzhiemer’s, Grandpa can do things which have no discernable reason. But other times there is a reason behind what he does. Yesterday I saw Grandpa doing things which at first struck me as a little odd, but I think, in the end, had a reasonable reason.

I first saw him over at the couch doing what looked like leg stretches. A little later I saw him in a different part of the house doing what looked like calf exercises. Then, a little later yet, I saw him walking up and down the hall. Any one of these things singularly could have been passed off as Grandpa acting weird, but they came in succession and Grandpa appeared to be deliberately walking up and down the hall (not wandering, like he often does). It seems Grandpa decided to exercise, or at least practice his walking.

I wish I could encourage him to do this more often, as I think it is good for him and might slow the progress of the disease. However, you might be able to suggest that Grandpa do something one day, but if you keep it up for several days it begins to feel like nagging to Grandpa and he becomes recalcitrant. Such things must be Grandpa’s own idea, and I suspect this exercise was a passing whim.

He walked fairly well in his deliberate track up and down the hall. Soon as he stopped and went off to do something else he reverted back to his uncertain gait. Walking, really, no longer comes to him without thinking.

So the downward slide continues.

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