My elderly father with dementia is still very active and wants to compete in week long challenge terrain bike ride. Should I let him compete?


He thinks he can complete it because he rides a little each day and was good at it when he was younger .

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Patricia has given you some good advice. He's thinking he can just go and do this because he did it when he was young. If there's a way that you can follow, you might want to let him go as far as he can. Or, perhaps, as friend could ride with him. If that isn't possible, you may have to find his bike "broken" too late to repair or something drastic because it doesn't sound like he has a chance of making it through, unless there are special provisions.
. I hope you can help him find something pleasurable for him so he can still challenge himself. There are some things worth risking, as we don't want to kill all of his dreams.
Good luck,
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You didn't give enough information about your father's degree of cognitive functioning or physical fitness to give an informed answer about his specific situation. If he is truly unfit to compete, simply inform the event coordinators. Everyone must have a minimum level of fitness to compete. They don't want participants who could endanger others, potentially causing lawsuits, etc.

However, in general, I can tell you that people who have been athletic in the past, know the limitations of their body and they also know that it's possible to push beyond those limitations to some degree. I suspect your father just wants to see how much he can do. It's important to challenge ourselves to feel "alive", and former athletes or fitness buffs often pick physical trials to do this.

Participating in the race would be exhilirating, even if he had to drop out early. I have some personal experience with this sort of situation with my mother, and I urge you not to "break" his bike. In fact, I think you should support him in every way you can. At some point, he may decide that volunteering at the race would be a better solution, but it should be left up to him.

The suggestion to ride along with him is a good one. If you aren't able to do that, match him up with someone who would be capable of riding along for support.
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I would think the training for this event would answer questions for both of you. Now he rides a little each day. To get ready, won't he have to ride a little more each day, then a little more, then something approaching a typical event day? If he can't really get up to that level of endurance that might convince him to participate in the event some other way, as a volunteer perhaps.

"Dementia" covers a lot of ground. Aside from physical stamina, could he handle this cognitively?

My 85-y-o husband with dementia wants to bowl. He joined a senior league that isn't very competitive and is very supportive of him. It is great for his ego to be able to say "I still bowl once a week." He wishes he could still golf. We found a rehab center that sponsors a golf league for persons with disabilities. He loves it! He wants to ski. Sorry kiddo, even without dementia, at your age a fall could easily mean a broken bone and that would change the remainder of your life for the worse. No skiing.

Somehow we have to balance encouragement with realism. Good luck to you as you seek this balance for Dad.
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I don't know how old your father is but he may be lonely and looking for companionship and this is something he remembers as fun when he was younger. I guess if he is in physical shape to do it maybe it would be good for him if not then he probably won't get past the first few miles. You many have to follow along with him in the car so you can pick him and his bike up when he realizes he bit off more than he can chew. In addition, If he really isn't capable I think I would dismantle his bike so he can't go and hurt himself. It's better to be safe than sorry!

Good Luck
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A week long bike ride is a grueling undertaking for people of sound mind! It is no place for a person with dementia. Not only would your Dad be a danger to himself, he would be endangering other riders. A 68-year old man on the Ragbrai was killed last year when he clipped another rider and fell. They were both injured but the 68-year old died from head injuries even though he was wearing a helmet.

Can you find a short bike race/ride in your area where your Dad could complete? Check with some local biking groups and see if another rider would be willing to mentor your Dad and ride with him. Maybe you could start a riding club for people with dementia or just older riders where they can get exercise but under supervision.
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I would tell the people running the race maybe they can test him by himself to see how he does and that will be your answer but no I do not think he should be allowed to be in the race where he could greatly injure himself and others -he will not be happy about and will probably put up a fuss but at this points you have to do what is right and as was said above encourage something else maybe in a senior center like pool with a group.
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