caregiver responding to criticism

Don’t do it that way!”

“You never…”

“I can’t believe you…”

As a family caregiver, you work tirelessly and selflessly to provide care for someone you love. What happens when you are giving it all you have, yet your all isn’t good enough? Criticism isn’t easy to hear, but it’s particularly challenging in your role as caregiver. Family members and friends who aren’t involved with caregiving will most likely not see the full picture. Their suggestions might be well-meaning, but ill-informed. Or, there might be some challenging family dynamics going on. Regardless of the source, coping with caregiver criticism can be tricky to navigate and it’s essential to know how to reply effectively.

What’s the Best Way to Cope With Caregiver Criticism?

Before responding, pause for a minute. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Set any angry or resentful thoughts aside. When you are ready to answer calmly, try following these tips:

  • Acknowledge and question. Reflect back what the person is saying, even if you disagree with their viewpoint. Explain your thinking around the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would propose instead (even if you don’t wish to hear it). For example, imagine your sibling says, “Why are you making Dad a cheesesteak for lunch? He should be eating healthier food!” A good response would be, “I hear that you are concerned about Dad’s health and diet. It has been difficult to get him to eat lately, though. His doctor suggested preparing whatever he feels like eating. What are some other foods that you think might appeal to him?”
  • Use “I” statements. It’s vital that you let the criticizer know that their comments sting. Craft your response in a way that focuses on how you feel. In the case above, for example, you might say, “I feel hurt when you question my decisions in meal selections for Dad.”
  • Respectfully defend yourself. After explaining how you feel, you can tactfully and calmly defend your actions. This can help the person start to see the situation from your point of view and hopefully think twice before criticizing you again. Continuing with the example above, you could say, “I care deeply about Dad’s health and am adhering to the doctor’s orders to ensure he’s getting some nutrients every day.”

Additionally, it can help to remember that this is a challenging time for everyone who loves the senior in need of care. Each person may be struggling with the stress and worry in different ways. Just a little grace and forgiveness goes a long way toward achieving your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for the senior.

If you are providing the bulk of care for your older parent, it is important to develop a system of support that enables you to make time for self-care. Grace 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 relax, recharge, and rest. Contact us today at 785-286-2273 to learn more about our in-home respite care services in Topeka.