caregiver responding to criticism

“You always…”

“If I were you…”

“You never…”

As a family caregiver, you work tirelessly and selflessly to provide care for a person you love. What happens when you are giving it your all, yet your all is not good enough? Negative feedback is never easy to hear, but it’s particularly challenging in your role as caregiver. Family members and friends who aren’t involved in caregiving may not understand the full picture. Their suggestions could be well-meaning, but ill-informed. Or, there might be some challenging family dynamics at play. Regardless of the source of the caregiver criticism you’re receiving, it’s important to understand how to effectively reply.

What’s the Best Reaction to Caregiver Criticism?

Before responding, pause for a minute. Take a breath and count to ten. Set any angry or resentful emotions aside. When you are ready 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. Explain your reasoning for the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would propose instead (even if you do not wish to hear it). For example, imagine your sister says, “Why did you make Mom that greasy hamburger for dinner? Shouldn’t she be eating healthier foods?” An effective response would be, “I hear that you are concerned about Mom’s health and diet. It has been difficult to get her to eat lately, though. Her doctor suggested preparing whatever she feels like eating in order to make sure she eats. What are some other foods that you think she might like to have?”
  • Use “I” statements. It is vital that you let the criticizer know that their remarks sting. Craft your response in a way that centers around how you feel. In the situation above, for example, you could say, “I feel hurt when you question my decisions in meal options for Mom.”
  • Respectfully defend yourself. After explaining how you feel, you can calmly and politely defend your actions. This can help the person look at the situation from your viewpoint and hopefully think twice before critiquing you again. Continuing with the example above, you might say, “I care deeply about Mom’s health and am adhering to the doctor’s orders to ensure she’s getting some nutrients every day.”

It may also 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 dealing with the stress and worry differently. A little grace and forgiveness goes a long way toward reaching your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for the older adult.

Contact Us

Abby Senior 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 303-699-8840 for more information on our in-home respite care services in Denver, Aurora, Greenwood Village, and surrounding Colorado communities.