There’s a first time for everything, and this is my first time writing on Medium…

YOUNG AND OLD, and it’s love that makes the world go ‘round.

I had the opportunity to hold a new baby in my arms yesterday. Soft, cuddly and so very dependent. At the end of the day, I held the hand of a lady who is nearing the end of her life, brittle, thin, and so very dependent. The contrasts and similarities are amazing. Yet, the dependency at the beginning and end of life is something that is treated so differently.

When an infant begins to develop a personality, we tend to encourage individualism. The uniqueness is ‘cute.’ We support and provide so that a child can grow into adulthood and the life cycle can continue.

As we age, we continue to develop as individuals and yet, the term aging itself often defies individualism. Being ‘old’ assumes a loss of individuality and the elders are clumped into a category that too often implies worthless or at least, decreased value. The dependency factor as an infant is now considered a burden.

As a geriatric care manager aka aging life care specialist, a common theme among clients is a lack of purpose in their lives. The main event of the week is a doctor’s appointment or a funeral. These events provide an opportunity for socialization-really?

The challenge that I present is to find the purpose for each and every person we encounter, regardless of age. When we engage a child in play, we find meaning and pleasure. Why is it then that we cannot engage an elder in a conversation and find meaning and pleasure?

Without exception, every person I have interacted with has taught me something of value: veterans, teachers, moms who worked in and out of their homes, those who have no place to call home, and those with advanced dementia. I believe that I have learned these lessons because I have looked into the eyes of the person telling the story; accepting them as an individual who has a purpose, just like that newborn I held yesterday. She will have a story to tell someday. I only hope that someone will listen.

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