Mr Sharma and Vikas Sharma (son and carer)
Classes Attended : Yoga and Bhangra Classes at Singh Sabha
Sports centre every Thursday.
Our Yoga and Bhangra classes are run as part of the Community Ambassadors and Space project which is supported by SCVS and People’s Health Trust. These are very popular amongst our 50+ group. They run on Thursday mornings at Singh Sabha Sports Centre, Slough.and also in Langley on Wednesdays. The physical benefits of yoga include:
• Increased flexibility.
• Increased muscle strength and tone.
• Improved respiration, energy, and vitality.
• Maintaining a balanced metabolism.
• Weight reduction.
• Cardio and circulatory health.
• Protection from injury.
The classes are open to all levels and are a great way to make new friends, stay healthy, improve confidence and expand your social circle.
Our learners spotlight is on Mr Sharma, and his son, Vikas; who is also his carer, who attend the Yoga class. We are so impressed by Mr Sharma’s sheer determination, willpower and tenacity in achieving the progress that he has made to date that we wanted to share his story with you.
In May 2016, Mr Sharma, who is aged 86, was living in Punjab India, with his wife. Sadly, his wife passed away, and a few months afterwards, Mr Sharma suffered a stroke. The stroke left him paralysed on his left side, unable to walk, dress himself or even attend the bathroom without help. With all his children now leading their own lives abroad, there was no one in India to take care of him. Mr Sharma had also been diagnosed with dementia in 2013. His son, Vikas, went to India to be with his father, and decided that he would bring him to the UK to look after him.
Vikas was living in Austria at the time with his wife and two sons. The decision to move to the UK was due to the fact the Mr Sharma’s other son lived here, and Vikas thought that they could share the care taking between them. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan; His brother felt unable to help, leaving Vikas 100% responsible for his father’s care. Vikas and his wife both sought work that would allow for their fathers needs to be met. Vikas now works part-time. and his wife full-time, to ensure that there is someone with Mr Sharma always.
Once in the UK Mr Sharma underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain, in the hope that this would help restore his ability to move the left-hand side of his body. He had physiotherapy during his stay in hospital, and made some limited progress during that time. After the surgery, his dementia symptoms appeared to get worse, there are times when Mr Sharma does not remember his son or mistakes him for his own elder brother. There are also times when after just having eaten, he will ask to be fed, forgetting that he has just eaten.
At this stage Mr Sharma was confined to a wheelchair, and having been discharged from the hospital, it was up to Vikas to encourage him to do his physio exercises. Knowing his father has he does, Vikas set about finding opportunities for his father to keep his body active in a way that he enjoyed and to get him out and about, making friends and socialising. Mr Sharma had always been a very friendly and social person, with many friends. He also had grit, and was up for a challenge!
Yoga was an activity that Mr Sharma had done previously, albeit a long time ago, so when Vikas saw an Apna Virsa leaflet, advertising Yoga classes for 50+ residents, he was sure that this could be what he was looking for! He enrolled Mr Sharma, making sure that the Apna Virsa were aware that Mr Sharma was in a wheelchair, and that that he would also need to attend to assist his father. After consultation with the tutor and AV was given the thumbs up!
Starting anything new, anywhere and at any age is daunting, but Mr Sharma did not let that deter him! He turned up, smiled and greeted everyone with a warm hello! He got to work, putting his all into trying his best, every move, every time. Vikas was on hand to support him through the sessions. I asked Vikas what improvements he had noticed in his father’s ability to partake in the class since he first started.
“At first he was happy to stay in his wheelchair and do what he could from that position. After a while he wanted to be out of the wheelchair and to do the exercises either standing or on the floor mat, like everyone else! He wants to remain active and pushes himself to do more each session. I am there with him to make sure that he doesn’t fall or hurt himself. His legs are getting stronger and so he can now stand for short amounts of time. There has been considerable improvement, he is stronger and more confidant in his movements, and he continues to improve with each session! It’s great to see him trying, and he knows he’s getting better which makes him feel good. He loves seeing everyone, and although he may not remember who everyone is, he loves the social interaction; talking to people. He may not remember people, but it allows him to remember who he is; a very friendly, chatty man, always smiling and happy.”
Vikas also practised yoga, although it had been a while! Attending the class alongside his father means that he can also join in where possible!
“I find that doing the yoga moves destressing, and that’s great as life is pretty stressful! It helps keep me heathy and balanced, and keep an eye on dad at the same time. We are both benefiting. If there is anyone out there who is in a similar situation to me, I would recommend these classes. It benefits both the attendee and the carer on so many different levels. I feel supported by Apna Virsa, which is in itself makes me feel like I am not alone and know that there are people out there willing to listen, understand and help.”
I asked Mr Sharma if he enjoyed yoga and after letting out a hearty laugh he replied;
“How do I like yoga?! Yoga is my gym! I love to exercise, lots of moves, bending one way then the other, always moving! I used to do yoga, but that was a long long time ago! I am getting better at it! “
It was a privilege to meet Mr Sharma, a true warrior! Despite all the health issues he faces, he wears a beautiful smile and has the most contagious laugh! Well done to Vikas, who continues to support and care for his father with patience, respect and above all, humility. We never know what life is going to throw at us, and what Mr Sharma and Vikas have taught me is that it’s our attitude and how we respond to those challenges that determines how well we overcome them.