Dealing with criticism as a caregiver can be extremely difficult and personal. Not only are you managing the issue of providing care, which is often itself fraught or emotional, but now you have to deal with opinions of friends and family. Hearing that someone else thinks you could do your job better or differently, when often they have very little understanding of what you deal with on a daily basis, can be hurtful whether they mean well or not. You may find their suggestions upsetting and frustrating. It can be hard to know how to react to the best-intended suggestions, let alone the ones that are ill-planned and hurtful. Caregivers often can’t escape these unwanted critiques, but they can choose how to respond.
Here are five practical tips for dealing with criticism as a caregiver:
1. Control Your Emotions
No matter what happens or what untoward things are said, it is absolutely necessary to keep a firm grip on your emotions and remain calm. Even if you have to leave the room, write an angry ten pages in a journal, or vent to one of your closest friends, the important thing is to not infuse more emotion into an already tense and emotionally escalated situation. As a caregiver, you are often the liaison between the person receiving care and other family members, so it is essential that you remain calm.
2. Consider the Source
Once you’re calm, consider who shared the criticism in the first place. Does this person understand the situation and your role as caregiver? Do they know what you do on a daily basis? The answer to this question will determine whether you should take their feedback seriously at all. If they live far away, they may simply feel disconnected from the task of caregiving and are trying to contribute. Or, with a closer family member, they may simply be concerned and trying to help. If they’re contributing without a lot of background information, this information may help you to address their comment simply by gently informing them of the facts in the situation. You can also ask them to provide solutions rather than criticism alone.
3. Consider the Comment
If the giver does have a reasonable grasp of the situation, there may be cause to consider their comment and respond graciously. It’s easy to feel like the critique may be personal, but the person giving it probably doesn’t have malicious intent so much as a deep care for their loved one. It takes humility and confidence to accept help in a situation that may feel overwhelming, and it’s worth considering whether other well-informed opinions could be useful in the situation.
4. Ask for Contributions on Your Terms
Perhaps one of the most valuable responses for a caregiver to provide is suggesting the critical party help in ways that are more useful. Most people giving advice just want to be involved somehow and are grasping at straws to do so. Whether it’s making a meal every week, getting insurance issues resolved, or helping with bills, if you ask for help, you can give concerned family members a way to contribute to the situation without getting in your way or undermining your confidence.
5. Ask for Outside Advice
Finally, one of the best things that you can do to evade commentary by well-meaning relatives is to simply get an outside opinion. If Aunt Nancy from Ohio doesn’t think Grandma should go outside to sit in the sunshine every day, the best course of action is to get an opinion from a medical professional or another well-respected source. Having an outside opinion to back up your own, especially from someone the other party recognizes as an expert, can stop potential conflicts before they even begin.
Any way you slice it, a barrage of opinions on how to provide care differently than you already are is generally not helpful. Learning to place yourself above the fray, arm yourself with expert opinions, and knowing when to accept or ask for help when you need it can help you successfully navigate the tricky waters of being criticized as a caregiver.
If you have more questions or if we can help you find the best care options for a loved one, contact us today.