Tom Wojehowski, 62, has a wife, two sons, six grandchildren, a German shepherd puppy and Alzheimer’s disease. The signs started showing a few years ago when he began repeating himself, and in November 2010, a neurologist diagnosed Wojehowski with mild cognitive impairment. Since then, it’s progressed to early dementia.
Wojehowski had to leave his job because of the dementia, but has kept busy at his home in Cornwall, N.Y. by doing yard work, preparing to move houses and going on daily walks with his wife, Suzanne. Exercise is good for the brain, he was told, so he tacked another activity to his list: yoga.
Here Wojehowski shares his yoga experience. Responses have been edited:
How did you get into yoga?
Tom Wojehowski: I had heard that any type of exercise is good for dementia. And because I had to leave work, I was looking for other things to do. So I tried it out, and I enjoyed it. I started out with a DVD, and then went to the Mid-Hudson School introductory yoga instruction, and the rest is history. I was going four or five times a week.
How has yoga affected your life?
Tom Wojehowski: There would be times when I’d say, “You know, I really don’t feel like going to yoga today,” but I would go anyway. When I came home, I would always tell my wife, “I’m glad I went, because it was great.” One of the slogans on the walls at the school is “body, mind and spirit,” and that’s what it does. It puts your mind and spirit in a different place. Every time I went, I felt refreshed and energized. When I walked out of the place, I was always so glad I went.
Suzanne Wojehowski:: Also, one of the important things with dementia is being comfortable talking to other people, and being able to communicate and putting yourself in a position where you’re actually out – not pulling yourself back from people. This also helped Tom in that respect, because he would interact with people in class. People tend to pull back when they have a form of dementia.
By Laura McMullen, U.S. News & World Report
Here is a video of a Yoga class at Melabev Senior Center in Israel that includes Alzheimers and Stroke Victims: