SYKESVILLE (WBFF) - With no mirrors and chairs in place of mats, it's not your typical place for a yoga class, but then again, it's not your typical yoga class.
Tom Hayes is 78 years old. “I never thought in my whole life that I’d do yoga,” he says with a laugh.
He joins a room filled with senior citizens. Kim Kerr has been instructing the class inside Copper Ridge Senior Care Center for four years.
“I love it,” she says. “It’s a special group of people to work with.”
In the autumn of their lives, Eileen and John Vogelpohl are looking for an extra spring in their step.
Eileen says it’s more work than she thought it would be
“Sometimes I look at the clock to see if she’s ready to the ending,” she laughs with her husband. “I know that’s my time to relax. Maybe just 10 more minutes, then I get to close my eyes!”
Every Tuesday, Eileen and John attend the class, she says.
“It’s a good activity for us to do together.”
However, this season has brought with it something they never expected.
“It’s hard to talk about dementia, isn’t it?” Eileen asks aloud. “Yes. I would say yes.”
Not for Eileen, but for her partner of 56 years. John was diagnosed with dementia shortly after their 50th anniversary trip to Alaska.
John says: “You just try not to let it take control of you. That’s a hard thing.”
Eileen says: “This dementia has changed things. We’re in this transition periodWhereas before, everything was possible, now everything is not possible.”
Fifty-six years of memories are now growing a little more difficult to remember. As they adjust to this new season, they look for ways to make their love last even longer. It’s what they find when they attend Kerr’s yoga class.
Kerr says: “I do see a lot of affection with one another throughout the class, which I think is really special. I see people noticeably feeling more relaxed at the end of class.”
Everyone in this class has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia or is the care partner of someone diagnosed.
“It’s called ‘Care Partner Yoga,’” Kerr says. “It’s open to the community for anyone with dementia or cognitive issues and their care partner.”
Kerr says the class is about so much more than yoga.
She offers a place of comfort and control, a place not focused on fear - a place Kerr understands well.
“My mother-in-law passed away a few years ago with Alzheimer’s,” Kerr says. “And my grandmother passed away with Alzheimer’s.”
Through a smile, fighting back tears, Eileen says: “We’ve had a full life with the five children and eight grandchildren. So this is fine.”
She grabs John’s hand. “We have had a wonderful, full life. God has truly blessed us. So this is our current ballgame.”
Overcome with emotion, John squeezes his wife’s hand.
“The point of it is that we’re together,” he says. His eyes begin welling up.
“We share together as long as we can share together and keep one’s attention, it means a lot.”
Clinging, not just to memories, but to a love worth remembering.