Who will help you write the happiest possible ending to your very first love story?

They were the first ones to give us the love and care we needed. When they're in need, how do we give it back?

Did you know there are 5 million people over 85 in the U.S. today?

And that will double by 2035?

If you have an older loved one, you know what a struggle it can be for them. Simple things that we do without thinking, like walking or grocery shopping, become nearly impossible challenges when your body just doesn't work the way it used to.

It can be heartbreaking when someone we love goes through this.

But who's going to help?

We're all so busy, with careers to build, families to manage, and other commitments, and it's often hard to work out what to do to help an older loved one.


As hard as it can be, adult children who can find the time — and have the right kind of relationship with the older person — may find the experience incredibly fulfilling. With the older person vulnerable in a way she or he never was, new opportunities for a profoundly deep, equal friendship appear. And a refocusing of what's really important makes the good moments so, so good.

In other situations, a professional caregiver can be the answer. Some people are finding professional caregiving to be a deeply rewarding career choice. It allows them to make a real difference in someone's life. And a caregiver/client arrangement can turn into an irreplaceable, life-changing relationship.

If we're lucky enough for our elders to live a long time — and if we're that lucky ourselves — we realize what an important role caregivers of all kinds play.

The pay for professional caregivers, though, is unfairly low.

It's often less than $10 an hour. Pretty shocking considering how vital these people are to so many families. We need to encourage good people to go into this line of work so when our families need them, they're there. And, of course, when a caregiver makes the life of someone you love livable, there just aren't enough thanks in the world.

Three women tell their personal stories about caregiving from three different angles.

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Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

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Capital One