caregiver responding to criticism

“You never…”

“I can’t believe you…”

“Don’t do it that way!”

As a family caregiver, you work selflessly to provide care for a person you love. What happens when you’re giving it your all, but your all isn’t good enough? Negative feedback is never easy to hear, but it is particularly hard in your role as caregiver. Relatives and friends who aren’t taking part in caregiving may not see the full picture. Their suggestions can be well-intended, but misguided. Or, there could be some difficult family dynamics going on. Whatever the cause for the complaint you’re receiving, knowing how to handle negative feedback as a caregiver is essential.

What’s the Best Way to Handle Negative Feedback as a Caregiver?

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

  • Acknowledge and question. Repeat back what the person is saying, even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint. Discuss your thinking about the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would recommend instead (even if you do not wish to hear it). For example, imagine your sibling says, “Why are you making Mom a cheesesteak for lunch? Shouldn’t she be eating healthier foods?” An effective 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 might appeal to her?”
  • Use “I” statements. It’s vital that you let the criticizer know that their remarks sting. Craft your response in a way that centers around the way you feel. In the situation above, for example, you could 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 care very much about Mom’s health and am adhering to the doctor’s orders to ensure she is consuming some nutrients every day.”

It can also help to remember that this is a difficult time for everyone who loves the senior in need of care. Each person may be coping with the stress and worry differently. A little bit of 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’re providing the majority of care for a loved one, it is essential to build a system of support that enables you to make time for self-care. Inspired Home Care offers fully trained and experienced caregivers who are able to work with you to ensure you get the breaks from care you need to rest, relax, and recharge. Contact us today at 847-787-7572 to learn more about our in-home respite care services in Gold Coast, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and surrounding communities.