caregiver responding to criticism

“You always…”

“You never…”

“If I were you…”

As a caregiver, you work tirelessly and selflessly to provide care for someone you love. What happens when you’re giving it your all, yet your all is not good enough? Negative feedback is never easy to hear, but it is especially tough in your role as caregiver. Loved ones and friends who aren’t engaged in caregiving might not see the full picture. Their suggestions can be well-intended, but misguided. Or, there could be some difficult family dynamics going on. No matter what the source of the complaints you are receiving, it’s crucial to understand how to effectively reply.

What Are Some Tips for Responding to Caregiver Critiques?

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

  • Acknowledge and question. Repeat back what the person is saying, even if you disagree with their viewpoint. Explain your thinking about the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would suggest instead (even if you don’t wish to hear it). For example, imagine your brother says, “Why did you make Mom that greasy hamburger for dinner? Shouldn’t she be eating healthier foods?” A good reply 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 she might like to eat?”
  • Use “I” statements. It is crucial that you let the criticizer know that their comments hurt. Craft your response in a way that centers around how you feel. In the example above, for instance, you might say, “I feel hurt when you question my decisions in meal choices for Mom.”
  • 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 viewpoint and hopefully think twice before criticizing you again. Continuing with the example above, you can say, “I truly care about Mom’s health and am implementing the doctor’s orders to make certain she’s taking in some nutrients every day.”

It may also help to keep in mind that this is a stressful time for everyone who loves the senior in need of care. Each person may be dealing with the stress and worry in different ways. A little forgiveness and grace goes a long way toward attaining your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for the senior.

If you are providing the majority of care for your loved one, it is vital to develop a system of support that allows you time for self-care. Hearts at Home In-Home Care offers fully trained and experienced caregivers who can work with you to ensure you get the breaks from care you need to rest, relax, and recharge. Contact us at 913-440-4209 for more information on our in-home respite care services in Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa, and surrounding communities.