I was in my late teens when I decided to move in with my grandparents. I thought it would be something new and they were aspiring vegans with a great vegetable garden. They lived in a retirement community and, being the youngest person to take residence there, I caused quite a stir. Nevertheless, I took over their spare room and immersed myself in the life of a retiree.
They started every day with a smoothie, full of healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, while they read the paper, completed the sudoku and crossword, then called me in to read my horoscope.
My grandmother spent her days gardening, chatting and reading romance novels; my grandfather golfed all the time, mowed lawns and played cards with my uncles.
I enjoyed the two years I spent with them. They are young at heart and I loved hearing their perspective on life, soaking up whatever lessons they were willing to teach me.
One of the most important things I learned during my time there was about brain health. Brain exercises were a ritual revered by my grandparents.
It’s because Alzheimer’s disease runs rampant in my family. My grandparents have seen their parents, siblings, and friends lost in that slow decline of memory loss and confusion. They have witnessed firsthand the effects this illness has on a family and they did everything possible to stop it.
It’s a lesson I have kept with me, even after I moved out. I know that it’s never too early to focus on brain health and reduce my risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. I value that foresight because many of my friends don’t realize the long term health effects of their actions today.
I use my free time to train my brain, learning languages and playing puzzle games. I use apps like Elevate to track my progress and hone my skills. And weekends, I love to go hiking and have coffee with friends. I remember that, even though it may seem far away now, life will move quickly and I don’t want to be in a position later on that will be harder to correct.
Today, my grandparents still complete the same morning routine, but now the paper has been traded for a tablet and they’re a little less vegan than before. However, they still take those simple steps to stay the healthiest they can be, and hopefully, they will one day teach my children the same lessons they taught me.
Learn more about how you can keep your brain healthy.
Humber College PR student