My mother survived a broken hip and a heart attack in her 90s. In the end it was a flu of some sort that took her—one not nearly as contagious as the ones we’re dealing with now—because caregivers didn’t take protective precautions.

It meant her end was pretty miserable and not at all like those lovely stories of a grandmother gathering her family around her to say goodbye and then dying peacefully in her sleep. Not even close. I was there to hear her labored breaths and stroke her furrowed brow before I had to say goodbye and get back to work to continue supporting the living.

I’m not an alarmist when it comes to disease. Something will take each one of us out at some point, regardless of lifestyle. But I believe there is value in gaining understanding of how things work in the world and of the very real, comprehensible science that explains contagion and disease risk factors.

We live in an age where we know more than ever but act like we know less than ever. Perhaps that is the most troublesome disease of the age. That one can kill us too.

Statistics don’t explain everything, but they are still useful. The science of disease doesn’t explain everything, but it is still useful. And I’ll hang my hat on the fact that prevention is everything. Acts of prevention are acts of caring.