Are you a perfectionist? I have a tendency to be one. How has it impacted your care? Your ability to live life with dementia to all its great width and depth?
It is easy to want to do everything just so, to ask the right questions, to do the right thing, to enroll in the right program, the right adult day, the right home care, skilled care, and memory care. To the right foods, and do the right exercises. We do this in hopes of preventing and slowing the progression of dementia. But in my experience, this only leaves us anxious and stressed, and dementia still moves forward. There is no, “right” only beautiful. Right is a direction, a side of your body, a road, or a desk. It has no place in dementia care.
Our desire for the “right” is only amplified by the research and medical worlds that drive how one is cared for in our care communities, clinics, and programs. It finds its best friend in the doom and gloom narrative and they make a perfect partner. Research and medical advancements are important, but when you have had a bad day, do you run to the latest medical journal to see what you need to do to make yourself feel better? No, you likely go to your spouse, your parents, or your best friend and sit down to a good meal and vent. And while having dementia is much greater than having a bad day, the humanity of the moments remains the same. The tide of ups and downs is familiar.
So, how do we fight perfectionism in dementia care?
- Remember that you are human and that humanity is inherently imperfect. While imperfect, it is beautiful, intuitive, and compassionate. Lead with your love for the other person.
- Don’t be afraid to turn off that doom and gloom narrative. If dementia comes on the TV while you are watching it, or you see an article as you are scanning a website. Don’t be afraid to pass it by. You don’t need to consume every piece of information ever shared about dementia. Instead, find an organization you trust, and once a month, or even once a quarter, check in to see what they have published, shared, attending an event or two throughout that time. CaringKind, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, and local organizations such as the Fox Valley Memory Project are my favorites.
- Build out a care team that is diverse, not only medical professionals. We talked about this before, so check out my recommendations for a care team here.
- Remember that you are human. Yes. I already wrote this point, but I want to say it again. You are human, and with that humanity will come mistakes, errors, and failings. Come with good intentions, work from a place of love, and use that little bit of knowledge and experience you have gained along the way to guide you.
Perfectionism has no place in dementia care. Open the door to new possibilities of approaching how to learn about dementia, use that information to care for your loved one, and then bask in the beauty of our shared humanity.