Date of Award

Spring 2018


Capstone - Open Access


Exercise and Sports Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Allison Higgins


When an individual becomes ill or disabled, it is common for family members to fill the role of caregiver. The same is true in cases where an individual is diagnosed with dementia. Care partners, or care givers, of individuals with dementia are under a great deal of both mental and physical strain due to the debilitating nature of the disease as well as the demands of providing care. As a result, the mental and physical health of care partners often suffers. There are programs, such as respite, that aim to alleviate some of the strain, however there are few existing programs that provide an opportunity for the care recipients to exercise. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify needs of the care partners related to fitness/wellness centered respite programs. Methods: Six care partners of individuals with early stage dementia were interviewed. The interview questions assess the mental/physical strain of care partners as well as their perception of such respite programs. The responses to the interview questions were analyzed through coding. Results: Care partners reported spending large amounts of time in their care- giving role, limiting the opportunity to participate in physical activity and contributing to stress. All care partners expressed the need for wellness/fitness based respite programs. Discussion: In response to this need, wellness/fitness centered respite programs should be implemented in YMCA facilities and fitness centers/gyms. This would provide care partners with respite as well as an opportunity to positively impact their mental/physical health through participation in physical activity. Conclusion: The implementation and development of wellness/fitness based respite programs is necessary to meet the need expressed by care partners.