caregiver responding to criticism

“You always…”

“You never…”

“If I were you…”

As a caregiver for an older loved one, you work tirelessly and selflessly to provide care for a person you love. What happens when you’re giving it all you have, but your all isn’t good enough? Criticism is never easy to hear, but it is especially challenging in your role as caregiver. Loved ones and friends who are not involved in caregiving may not understand the full picture. Their suggestions could be well-meaning, but ill-informed. Or, there could be some difficult family dynamics going on. Whatever the source of the caregiving criticism you’re receiving, it’s essential to learn how to effectively respond.

What’s the Best Reaction to Caregiver Criticism?

Before you respond, pause for a moment. Take a breath and count to ten. Set any angry or resentful feelings aside. When you’re willing to answer calmly, try following these tips:

  • Acknowledge and question. Repeat back what the person is saying, even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint. Clarify your thinking on the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would suggest instead (even if you don’t want to hear it). As an example, imagine your brother says, “Why are you making Mom a cheesesteak for lunch? She should be eating healthier food!” An effective response would be, “I hear your concern about Mom’s diet. However, she has been refusing to eat lately, and the doctor recommends preparing whatever she feels like she can eat. What are some other foods that you think might appeal to her?”
  • Use “I” statements. It’s important to let the criticizer know that their comments sting. Craft your response in a way that centers on the way you feel. In the situation above, for example, you might say, “I feel hurt when you question my decisions in meal choices for Mom.”
  • Respectfully defend yourself. After explaining the way you feel, you can tactfully and calmly defend your actions. This can help the person start to see the situation from your perspective and hopefully think twice before criticizing you again. Continuing with the example above, you can say, “I care deeply about Mom’s health and am adhering to the doctor’s orders to ensure she’s consuming some nutrients every day.”

It may help to keep in mind that this can be a stressful time for everyone who loves the senior in need of care. Each person may be coping with the stress and worry differently. Just a little forgiveness and grace goes a long way toward reaching your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for the older adult.

If you are providing the majority of care for a loved one, it’s vital to develop a network of support that enables you to make time for self-care. Morning Glory Home Care offers fully trained and experienced caregivers who can work with you to make sure you get the breaks from care you need to rest, relax, and recharge. Contact us at 618-667-8400 for more information on our in-home respite care services in Edwardsville, Alton, Collinsville, and nearby communities.