When I was growing up, my mother was always reminding me not to focus on my looks, but on my mind. She would say to me, “Your looks are gonna go, but your mind? That will carry you through.”
Unfortunately, that’s not true for everyone.
So right now, my mind is intensely focused on the disease that is robbing millions of people of their minds: Alzheimer’s. My own mind has me searching for answers as to why a new brain develops Alzheimer’s every sixty-six seconds and why two-thirds of those brains belong to women.
Why are women so disproportionately affected by this disease? So far, no one can tell me why this is happening. In fact, I heard another sobering statistic: It would take forty-three football stadiums to hold all the women in America who currently have Alzheimer’s disease. Wrap your own brain around that picture.
And so my mind searches for a cure for Alzheimer’s. My mind is also focused on living in a way doctors tell me may help delay its onset—exercising, meditating, sleeping, and eating right. I have four kids, and I want to live to see their kids. I want to be able to remember my kids’ names and their children’s names, because my own father couldn’t.
It’s beyond mind-blowing to find yourself sitting across from a parent who has Alzheimer’s and who has no idea who you are, or worse, who they themselves are. I’ve been that child, and I would do anything to spare someone else that experience.
I want to be healthy in my mind and my body, and I don’t take my health for granted—neither my physical health nor my mental health. And neither should you.
Dear God, I give thanks for the gift of my mind. It is magnificent, beautiful, and unique. It is mine and mine alone. May I be grateful for it and honor it by taking care of it. Amen.
From I’VE BEEN THINKING… by Maria Shriver Reprinted by arrangement with Pamela Dorman Books / Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Maria Shriver