New York Times - On Saturday mornings, Cyndi Mariner puts on her Nikes, grabs a hat, and heads for Shoreline Park in Mountain View, Calif. Joining a handful of other people caring for elderly parents, she walks for an hour along San Francisco Bay. The walkers watch the kayaks and sailboats on the water, notice the hummingbirds buzzing across the trail. And they talk about things like how not to scream when your loved one with dementia has asked you the same question five times in a row.
The program that brings them together, called Meet and Move, began just a few weeks ago, but "I've already noticed a significant boost in my spirits,” said Ms. Mariner, 55.
Four years ago, she moved in with her ailing mother, now 84 and in need of a great deal of help. "I was getting tired, mentally and physically,” she said. Besides walking with other caregivers twice a week, Ms. Mariner religiously monitors the pedometer that the program provided; often she adds a 20-minute amble after work, or parks her car at the far end of the supermarket lot, aiming to record 10,000 steps a day. She has come to recognize, she said, that “I have to take better care of myself in order to take care of Mom."
Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation wanted to help family caregivers take a break, get some exercise and connect with others.
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