Remember the Caregivers

Mary LaRue, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Poster Number: 113

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Currently, over 15 million Americans are providing unpaid home care for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and there are indications this number could magnify in the future. Caregiving for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease typically lasts between 8-10 years thus it is considered a chronic stressor in the life of caregivers and may lead to a variety of health issues. In addition, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias may exhibit a multitude of behavioral disturbances which can impact the caregiver’s ability to exercise. Due to the number of individuals affected by this phenomenon, this area should be of interest to those working in the area of exercise psychology for research and intervention. In this initial study, an interpretive phenomenological analysis was conducted using semi-structured interviews with caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias regarding their exercise habits and adherence. Participants for this study included three caregivers, ages 46, 51 and 79. Two participants were females and one participant was male. This study found that participants all indicated strong barriers to exercise in the middle to latter stages of their loved one’s disease. Barriers included concerns of safety with leaving the individual unattended, or disruption from the individual while exercise is occurring. Other barriers to exercise participants mentioned included guilt, as well as a lack of interest in physical activity due to stress and exhaustion. All participants felt a need for exercise intervention of some type. Prior studies have shown the quality of life and health status of caregivers may improve with physical activity, thus exercise programs with support groups could be beneficial. Research examining pre and post exercise intervention results can be evaluated regarding overall health, as well as efficiency of the intervention process itself.

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