“It takes a village to raise a child” is a well-known quote. It also takes a community to help older adults stay independent and healthy as long as possible.
That community needs to include more than the primary caregiver. Nature offers an example of a strong and supportive community. Aspen trees, especially in the higher altitudes of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, are known for their stunning display of color in the fall. They have the qualities of caregiving and community. Jon Mertz wrote ”Aspens are wonderful trees. They offer qualities which instruct us to look beyond beauty.
Aspens illustrate an effective community. Rarely is there just one Aspen tree. By their nature, Aspens are not a solitary tree. Their roots spread below the earth’s surface and spring to life other trees to form a group. Aspens grow as a community; they are interconnected by their roots and share nutrients and resources to support each other. Underneath, they are survivors. An Aspen’s roots can remain dormant for years. At the right time, they jump to life and re-generate as a community. Aspens have strength and durability, unseen by many.
Beyond their support for each other, they serve others. Animals gain nourishment in the winter months from an Aspen’s trunk while pains can be soothed through their medicinal, aspirin-like value. Even people can gain protection from the sun or relieve a burn by rubbing an Aspen’s bark on their skin. Aspen trees provide a calming beauty while healing cuts and pains and restoring others outside their bonded community.” These interconnected roots give the Aspen tree resilience, strength and beauty, often in the harsh conditions of winter at high elevations. How can you relate these qualities to your caregiving?
We hope this article encourages you to continue to build your interconnected caregiving community by finding help in the community, faith-based organizations, and other resources.
- Explore this website, funded by area agencies on aging and Texas Commission Health and Human Services
- Subscribe  to our twice monthly e-newsletter and/or read past eNewsletters here .
- Join us on our social media sites 
- Check out our calendar of events  and attend a Caregiver Teleconnection Telephone call on the 2nd Tuesday of each month
Reference: Quotes in this article used with permission of the author, Jon Mertz, Blog
Read more about Aspen trees: Utah’s Pando grove and Colorado’s Kebler Pass are the largest groves of Aspen trees in the US. Scientists estimate that the Pando grove contains around 47,000 trunks, which collectively weigh more than 13 million pounds. By collecting leaf and bark DNA samples, researchers from Utah State University and the U.S. Forest Service confirmed in 2008 that Pando is a single genetic biomass, and therefore, they argue, holds the current title of largest living organism. The number of Aspen trees in The Kebler Pass in Colorado is also being studied and wants to claim the prize of the largest living organism. Scientists believe it could possibly be even larger than Pando. Aspens are the most widely distributed tree species in North America. They grow in Alaska and Canada, all the way south to Mexico.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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