The Webster Dictionary gives the following definition of Oversaturation: The act, or process, of being oversaturated; having too much knowledge, or information.
That being said, this blog, then, may seem contradictory to what Forgive and Forget is about: helping us navigate, through knowledge and information, how to care for our loved one with dementia. Therefore, I think we need to discuss how, sometimes, too much of a good thing, i.e. knowledge and information about dementia and caregiving, may not always be beneficial, especially when it begins to subtly erode our lives and sends us down the rabbit hole.
The dichotomy is we want to arm ourselves with as much information as possible to effectively help our loved one. Information is power, right? Well, yes and no. When we become a 24/7 thinking, doing, and learning robotic caregiver, oversaturation can and will trip our circuit and shut us down. I would go so far as to say that, by the time we reach this point in our caregiving knowledge, we don’t even know how oversaturated we are. I know I didn’t.
If you’ve followed my writings in Forgive and Forget for any length of time, you know I am an information gatherer. Consequently, when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, I thought that, like everything else in my life, caregiving could be mastered by finding out everything I could about this disease to minimize the chaos of flying by the seat of my pants.
No doubt, gathering information for caregiving is important, imperative even. However, we are up against an unrelenting form of work that is the poster child for unpredictability and frustration. Caregiving is akin to the idioms, “Caregiving is like herding cats.” Or, “Caregiving is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.” Our efforts feel futile many, if not most, of the time. We wind up discouraged and beaten down.
When I arrived at this precise point, it took a very perceptive and caring friend to level with me. He looked me square on, handed me a cold beer, and said, “Too much work has made Vic a dull-girl.” Though he was proud of me and understood my plight, he, nevertheless, felt, and more importantly, saw, that in the two solid years of attending support groups, dementia classes, reading books and articles on the subject, I had reached my limit. Oversaturation, instead of making me better at caregiving, actually made me less effective in caring for Mom, and in just about every other aspect of my life too. I believe his words were, “Put a sock in it.”
He was right. I backed off and made time for things that brought light back into my soul, even if it was the tiniest, most fragile flicker of a flame.
What Is True For Me
Dementia scared me. I wasn’t at all prepared for this. Diving into relevant articles, classes, has been my go-to push-back. It’s my juvenile self saying, “I’ll show you!” and my juvenile way of flipping off the Universe. I completely lost sight of “balance” and the phrase that says, “Everything in moderation,” and reached oversaturation believing there is no such thing as “moderation” in caregiving.
However, that is not true.
I have a choice, and so do you. We always have a choice. It’s just that caregiving is such an extreme circumstance that it appears like we have no choice. It wears cunning outfits with expensive labels like “responsibility,” “importance,” and “protection,” all designed to lull us into a potential health hazard, like a moth to flame.
Don’t get me wrong. “Responsibility,” “importance” and “protection” are at the forefront of caregiving. However, putting too much weight on anything, under any circumstance, is out of balance in the natural processes of our individual path in Life.
When I could not take in any more information, there was nothing left to say. I could not have been any more frustrated and scared. So, I did the only thing I could do: I let go.
I surrendered to just putting one foot in front of the other while holding the delicate hand of grief on my left side, and the hand of acknowledgment on my right side, and the three of us just. kept. walking.
Have faith that the information you have gathered is right and enough and is working for you. Trust that even though we’ve been dealt a difficult hand, we live in a benevolent world that is on our side. Forgive and Forget is tailored to avoid oversaturation. Pick what you want to read, or ask, and whatever you choose, you can be done in 10 minutes or less.
Monitor your information intake. Put a sock in it if need be and keep oversaturation at arm’s length!