This Is How It All Began:
Around twenty years ago we became caregivers when one of our mothers came to live with us as she began to develop dementia in her early eighties. So we learned a lot about home caregiving.
Less than ten years later, another relative developed severe dementia in her eighties and her husband asked us to help him care for her…for both of them. So we learned a lot about residential caregiving.
We also learned a lot about dementia up close and personal. There’s no substitute for experience.
However, since one of us has been a mental health professional for over 30 years, we also began to expand our knowledge base through formal and informal study. We became active in organizations focused on aging and brain health.
We were committed to understanding what, if anything, we could do to protect our own brain health and overall well-being, having seen at first hand how dementia burdened everyone in several families. Not that we didn’t love our relatives. But if that degree of mental impairment could be reduced in any way, we wanted to know about it, to save our own children that particular heartache. We especially wanted to learn how we could be proactive in maintaining our own health.
Today the research on behaviors, habits, and lifestyle choices that can slow down our deterioration as we grow old is on the rise.
We know more about the role diet and exercise can play in keeping us healthy in brain as well as body. Remember that the brain is a part of the body.
We know more about the value of connections with others. Nurture is not just for babies.
We know how important it is to keep our minds active by challenging ourselves to learn beyond our comfort zones.
And how continuing to feel a sense of purpose contributes to our motivation to stay engaged with the world rather than withdrawing from it.
We also know that creative expression in even simple ways — making a spontaneous joke or humming to ourselves — nourishes our spirit in some inexplicable fashion.
“Keep on growing as a whole person” — that is the message research is sending to us all. Our ongoing goal is to explore how to “keep on growing” in a way that’s natural and consistent — how to bring the theory into daily life practices.
That is what we mean by an “ageless mind.”