caregiver responding to criticism

“If I were you…”

“Why would you…”

“You never…”

As a caregiver for a senior loved one, you work tirelessly and selflessly to provide care for a person you love. What happens when you are giving it your all, but your all is not good enough? Negative feedback is never easy to hear, but it is especially hard in your role as caregiver. Loved ones and friends who aren’t taking part in caregiving may not understand the full picture. Their advice may be well-meaning, but misguided. Or, there may be some difficult family dynamics at play. Regardless of the cause of the feedback you are receiving, it is essential to learn how to respond to caregiver criticism effectively.

What’s the Best Response to Negative Feedback?

If you’re wondering how to respond to caregiver criticism without escalating the situation, it’s important to pause, take a breath, and count to ten. Set any angry or resentful emotions aside. When you are prepared to answer calmly, try following these strategies:

  • Acknowledge and question. Reflect back what the individual is saying, even if you disagree with their viewpoint. Explain your thinking for the issue being criticized. Then ask the person what they would propose instead (even if you do not want to hear it). For instance, imagine your brother says, “Why are you making Dad a cheesesteak for lunch? He should be eating healthier food!” An effective reply would be, “I hear your concern about Dad’s diet. However, he has been refusing to eat lately, and the doctor recommends preparing whatever he feels like he can eat. What are some other foods that you think might appeal to him?”
  • Use “I” statements. It is crucial that you let the criticizer know that their remarks sting. Craft your response in a way that focuses on the way you feel. In the example above, for instance, you could say, “I feel hurt when you question my decisions in meal choices for Dad.”
  • Respectfully defend yourself. After explaining how you feel, you can tactfully and calmly defend your actions. This can help the person begin to see the situation from your viewpoint and hopefully think twice before critiquing you again. Continuing with the example above, you can say, “I care very much about Dad’s health and am adhering to the doctor’s orders to make certain he is consuming some nutrients each day.”

It may also help to keep in mind that this is a hard time for everyone who loves the older adult 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 achieving your common goal: ensuring the very best care and comfort for the older adult.

If you’re providing the bulk of care for a loved one, it’s important to build a network of support that enables you to make time for self-care. Absolute Companion 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 relax, recharge, and rest. Contact us at 410-357-9640 to learn more about our in-home respite care services and how we can help families in Towson, Timonium, Monkton, and nearby Maryland communities.