And the other key person in the establishment of the Memory Foundation is our mother, Jeanie, Jeanie Paton. That picture was taken on her 90th birthday, and our Mum passed away in 2010. But do you know, in 2008 while I was still at Marsden, she was still proofreading all of our school reports and we had 850 students.
They had reports twice a year and there were 14 pages in every report. So you can imagine how much proofreading she did. She had an amazing brain. She was the secretary of the Academy of Highland dance for 65 years. She was an exponent of highland dance herself and adjudicator and examiner. She gained her QSM for her work in that whole field of highland dance and things Scottish.
And my Dad was a bagpiper. So you can imagine our upbringing. Our Mum had an amazing brain life and she really encouraged us to do the same things. Do you know that we had to recite the kings and queens of England and Scotland in order? And if we wanted a special treat of some sort, we had to recite our latest poetry that we'd learned at school, or we had to sing or perform or dance or whatever, because Mum believed in keeping the brain connections active.
And she certainly was a wonderful exponent herself. When she was 92, she was staying with us in Wellington. She got macular degeneration pretty well overnight.
Just quickly happened, and it was within the weeks after that that we began to realize that although nobody knew it, and there were no indications of it whatsoever, that our Mum had Alzheimer's. And that active brain life and the connections that she had built over her years had actually masked the symptoms of Alzheimer's.
And that's what people are discovering now, that those people who keep all of the lifestyle factors working well for them, are able to protect themselves against the symptoms, not against the disease itself, but against the symptoms of it for up to five years. And that's what has put people like, Sir Richard Faull so excited about the research that's coming out now into the impact that the way we live has on the way our memory will perform for us.
We believe our Mum was a perfect example of this sentence. Neuroplasticity. That's the the way our brain continues to grow and isn't static and hard wired. It is continuing to grow, provides us with a brain that can adapt not only to changes inflicted by damage but allows adaptation to any and all experiences and changes that we might encounter.
So we've adapted. Everybody's adapted. You're living in a village now, whereas, you probably haven't lived in a village all your lives, you've changed, you've adapted, you've altered how you live to the circumstances that occur.
And this has happened all through our lives, and this is what the brain can do. And if there's one thing that you take away with you from hearing me today is that you have an amazing brain that will do whatever you ask of it, but you have to keep up those challenges.