In the exercise class 5 days a week at the Cypress Alzheimers facility, three ladies sit next to eachother on a very large sofa in the front row. One tilts so far to the right as she sits and another sits very straight but both can follow right along with the teacher.
Another lady cannot seem to stay on the beat but is transfixed by the movement. The only man in the whole class sits way apart from the others at the back of the room and does not smile at all.
The rest of the people are in various states of sleeping and waking and mumbling to themselves or sitting staring straight ahead not at anything or anybody it seems. At the front of the class is the exercise lady; Hannah
"UP, DOWN, OUT, IN..up, down, out, in," Hannah speaks clearly and strongly as she demonstrates the arm movements to the twelve residents sitting in wheelchairs, sofas and recliners.
"Okay try to keep going," she continues," I am not going to tell you what to do: one, two three, in very good Janice, one, two, out, four."
She wears an extra large cap to cover her long thick braids which she occasionally flips behind her as if to dramatize starting and stopping each exercise sequence. She speaks with a Carribbean accent ending each sequence of exercises with the word PER....fect...lingering a split second longer on the first syllable.
"Okay Mrs, Mackenzie, thank you for joining us," says Hannah as she acknowledges a woman who has stood up and does not know where to go. "Dya have ta leave us now then?" she asks and then back to the other exercisers who are still working hard, "Keep those legs marchin now.
"I know it getting harder when it makes my legs burn a little ya know? We gonna work just a bit more then we can relax alright." A caretaker has come to help the lady who is looking stranded and takes her hand and leads her out of the exercise area.
"I see some people who need just a little help," Hannah stands up, walks over to a lady in black and white spotted sweater, buttons in the front, who must weigh only 95 pounds and is perched on the edge of a giant chair looking like she might fall off any minute but miraculously she does not.
Hannah kneels down in front and holds her face in her hands as if she is cradling a baby and helps her move her neck from side to side: "Excellent, there you go Marion...one, two, three, four five six, seven eight and relax.." then gets up to return to the front of the class again.
"Now take a few minutes to rest. Let your bodies relax so that we can do this again. Breathe in," she says as she lifts her arms above her head, "and breathe out.. PER....fect.