It’s difficult to think about Alzheimer’s without getting a little sad.
My parents died when I was quite young, so, I haven’t experienced this horrible disease directly. That said, I have spoken with many women in the community who are caregivers for one or more parents with dementia. Their stories of struggle are simultaneously heart-breaking and inspiring.
You know that awful moment when you’re standing in the middle of the living room, wondering, “Why am I here?” No, not the existential “Why am I here?” as in your reason for living, but the more ordinary “Why did I just walk into this room?”
When my children were young, I used to love to read Dr. Seuss books to them. There was something about the strange characters and wonderful worlds that sent all of us into uncontrollable fits of giggling. It’s a shame that, as adults, we are expected to be so serious. It’s almost as if we forget how to appreciate the silly, nonsensical moments in life.
If movies, TV shows and magazines are to be believed, turning 60 marks the beginning of a downward spiral towards forgetfulness, dementia and, eventually, death. From this perspective, the brain is a wonderful machine that gets rustier and rustier, until it finally breaks for good. Talk about depressing!
As we reach 60s, baby boomers are starting to reevaluate our place in the world. This is only natural. After decades of looking after other people, many of us finally have an opportunity to take a step back and ask the “big questions.” It’s not that we are less busy. If anything, baby boomers are ramping up, not winding down. At the same time, as we get a little older, our focus is shifting.
Surviving is not enough. We want our lives to matter. Just like we did as teenagers, we are once again asking, “What’s my purpose in life?”
I always love reading about the longevity and healthy brain secrets that people share when they reach their 100th birthday. For example, Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122 years old, credited her longevity to olive oil. Never mind that she smoked at least 2 cigarettes a day for 100 years! Then, there was Elizabeth Sullivan who, at age 104, said Dr. Pepper kept her young. Personally, I’m not convinced!
Like many women over 60, one of my biggest goals is to keep my brain in great shape so that I can enjoy everything that life offers in the decades to come. While I occasionally do something stupid, like leave my keys in the freezer, for the most part, I think that I’m doing a pretty good job. I get plenty of exercise, write for several hours a day and even try to keep up on the latest research on the aging brain.
It’s never too late to learn something new. Whether you want to become an expert on a specific topic, or simply stretch your brain, online courses make the concept of lifelong learning a reality. The even better news is that most of these courses are absolutely free and you can take them day or night from anywhere in the world.
Having lived in Seattle for 20 years, I know what it means to be part of a city infused by “coffee culture.” In Seattle, no one honestly seems to be able to function until they have had their morning caffeine kick. You’ll see people walking the streets with disposable coffee cups almost as a fashion accessory. The original Starbucks in Pike’s Market is a bit of a shrine for tourists and normally has a long queue of customers. There are also lots of local boutique cafes with baristas celebrating coffee as an art form.
Today, I want to talk about the importance of brain games for seniors. But, first, a little context. The last time I had to fill in a medical form, it asked me “How many hours a week do you exercise?” I had to laugh. Hours? Surely you jest!