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I have been thinking that for people who live into their 80s and 90s, there are many similarities between the first few years of life and the last few they will experience on Earth.

These two periods seem to be our “transitional times.” The first is when we come into our physical form. The second is the preparation for leaving that earthly form. When we arrive, we are unaware of our need to be cared for. We have not yet learned to fear that the care will not be there. In other words, ignorance is bliss. We cry and expect that someone will respond and meet our needs. As a society, we take it for granted that babies need to be cared for and swiftly punish adults who do not give children proper attention.

In contrast, as circumstances arise that begin to reveal our need to depart this earthly life, we may be afraid. The blissful ignorance is long gone. We fear that we will need to rely on the help of others as our body declines. And by now, we have experienced the pain of loneliness and unmet needs at the hands of our fellow man. We can no longer assume that our cries will be heard. Therefore, we live in fear of the time that we will need help and it will not come.

After spending a lifetime making sure our own needs are met, who wants to leave it up to someone else to make sure we are fed and cared for?

It is imperative that we treat our responsibility to care for the elderly as a sacred trust we owe to each other. Our individual futures depend on it.