Seeking: Perfection

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I love working in long-term dementia care, and I believe that a care community is a good option for a lot of families. 

Families have a lot of expectations when they move their loved ones into long-term dementia care. And they should—they are putting faith, trust, and a significant amount of money into their loved ones’ care. 

Still, I think that some people forget how hard it is to care for others—and how much work and time we put into making things go right every day.

It eats away at me when things go wrong. And, they do, because caring for other people is an imperfect science.

When things do go wrong, family members will tell you. They will call you up or find you in the hall and tell you what is upsetting them. “My dad’s coat is missing,” “My mom did not get to go out on the scenic tour,” “My aunt didn’t get a snack yesterday, what happened?”

The people at my current community, and the people at my last community—and the people at every other long-term care community—work hard. Really hard. We work really hard to ensure that things go right most of the time. We want your loved ones to be clean, well-fed, happy, healthy, and enjoying life. 

Sometimes, all I want to hear is, “My mom is happy here. Thank you.” 

I know that is a lot to ask, and I know that these families pay a lot of money to move their loved ones into long-term care. I know they put a lot of faith and trust in us. 

Still, I wish there was a way that I could tell them all that we, people who work in long-term care, are trying. Things will go wrong. Items will go missing, people will fall, trips to the hospital will happen, and snack times will be forgotten.

But we will always try.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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