Ivan “Andy” Celis serves as a Caregiver at Brookdale White Rock, an assisted living facility in Lake Highlands. Courtesy Brookdale White Rock.

Andy Celis is often the youngest person walking the floors of neighborhood assisted living facility Brookdale White Rock.

He got his start in caretaking at an early age when his grandfather began facing declines in health from dementia. Celis cared for his grandfather through high school, and then decided to pursue caregiving as a career shortly after his passing.

Working in the memory care field brings a sense of comfort to Celis, he said.

“Anytime that I knew that I was getting to a sad place where I was just kind of mourning my grandfather, I knew that I’m in a place where I belong, because I’m doing something that I love,” he said.

At just 20 years old, Celis has close to six years of caregiving experience under his belt and is rounding the corner of his first year at Brookdale White Rock, located off White Rock Trail in Lake Highlands.

In that year, Celis has helped residents stay positive through the pandemic.

This spring when Easter events were still not being held due to the pandemic, Celis took it upon himself to use his day off to make Easter baskets for the community’s 18 residents. There was no question as to whether or not to purchase and fill those baskets in his mind, he said.

“Everyone deserves to be appreciated on a holiday,” Celis said.

Little things make a big difference in residents’ day-to-day too, Celis shared. When snack time rolls around at 3 p.m. every day, he will often bring a little something special from the grocery store, such as a Little Debbie’s treat.

“Life’s too short for a little bit of sweetness,” he said.

His time at Brookdale has confirmed Celis’ passion for caregiving, and he has plans to work to become a Registered Nurse. And through it all, he is determined to stay in the memory care field.

“I know that without a doubt, that [memory care] will always be in my heart,” Celis said.