caregiver responding to criticism

“You always…”

“You never…”

“If I were you…”

As a family caregiver, you work selflessly to provide care for someone you love. What happens when you are giving it all you have, but your all is not good enough? Criticism while caregiving is never easy to hear, and it can be quite hurtful when it comes from other loved ones. Relatives and friends who are not involved with caregiving might not understand the full picture. Their recommendations may be well-meaning, but misguided. Or, there might be some complicated family dynamics going on. Whatever the reason for the criticism you are receiving, it is important to learn how to effectively respond.

What Is the Best Reaction to Criticism While Caregiving for a Loved One?

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

  • Acknowledge and question. Reflect back what the person is saying, even if you disagree with their viewpoint. Explain your reasoning for the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would propose instead (even if you do not want to hear it). As an example, imagine your sister says, “Why did you make Mom that greasy hamburger for dinner? 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 eating. What are some other foods that you think she might like to eat?”
  • Use “I” statements. It is vital that you let the criticizer know that their remarks sting. Craft your response in a way that centers on how you feel. In the situation above, for instance, 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 see the situation from your point of view and hopefully think twice before critiquing you again. Continuing with the example above, you could 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 help to keep in mind 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 grace and forgiveness goes a long way toward attaining your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for your family member.

If you are providing the bulk of care for a loved one, it’s essential to develop a community of support that enables you to make time for self-care. Anthem 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 today at 361-643-2323 for more information on our in-home respite care services in Portland, Rockport, and other nearby Texas communities.