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We will all find ourselves in need of care from others at some time in our lives. We cannot and are not meant to go it alone.

Caring for the elderly and for young children is at the forefront for me. Sometimes I go from my work as the director of an early childhood center directly to visit my elderly mother, who has dementia, in the facility where she lives.

Comparisons between caring for the two populations reveal many similarities. They are both vulnerable groups, reliant on others for physical care and generally unable to speak out for themselves.

Recently, due to her declining state and the increase in need for care, my mother was moved from the memory care facility she lived in for four years to a nursing home. When my sister and I went to empty her room, we gathered up much more than clothes and personal items. With a gift and thank you card in hand, we walked around looking for the people we have shared time with and who cared for our mother.

The first one we ran into was the handyman. With a voice shaky with emotion, he told us how much he will miss our mother and her children, who visited regularly. He said he had loved her since the first time he saw her.

Caregivers, nursing staff, administrators and cooks alike shared genuine sentiments of affection in notes, words and teary hugs. There was a “miss you” note on the bulletin board and several people popped in to say goodbye while we were packing.

We knew our mother was well cared for and loved, but did not know how much until it was time to say goodbye. We were touched by the outpouring of emotion.

Granted my mother is a lovable gal. She is receptive to the care she receives, even if it involves embarrassing circumstances. By being open to receiving the care, she is easier to care for, leaving more room for affection to grow.

That might be one of the gifts of dementia, yet I have seen others resist care, making it more difficult for the caregivers. Not my mom; she smiles at them, thanks them and, when she can, compliments them. Mom, who cared for eight children, is now being well cared for. It’s the cycle of life.

In the early childhood center where I work, we care for children so their parents can work or so the children can socialize with other children and bond with caring adults. The teachers care for the children lovingly as if they were their own children. They know that children need love to grow and flourish.

In the nursing home, the caregivers treat the elderly like their own parents or grandparents, human beings in need of tenderness and care.

I am convinced that people who care for other people have the biggest hearts in the world. It would be great if they were handsomely paid for their contribution, but that’s not the case. What they do take away is the love that they give, and we are so grateful to them for it.

When you give excellent care to someone else’s loved one, you bless the whole family. While the caregivers tend to my mother’s needs, I am free to tend to the needs of the children where I work. We are woven into an interconnected web of life; caring holds it all together.