Getting criticized is unpleasant, especially from family or friends who don’t lift a finger to help care for your older adult! When you get a hurtful comment, take a deep breath and try to stay as calm as possible. Then, try one of these responses.
1. Acknowledge their concern, then ask what they’d suggest instead
- Your sister says: Why did you give Mom a cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake for lunch? That’s so unhealthy! Are you trying to give her a heart attack?
- You could say: I see why you’re concerned. The truth is, Mom’s appetite has been really bad lately. Her doctor says that anything, even unhealthy foods, are better than not getting enough nutrition. What other kinds of foods would you suggest?
2. Repeat the criticism back to show how it made you feel
- Your brother says: I’m too busy to help out.
- You could say: I feel like you don’t value my time and take what I do for granted when you say that you’re too busy to visit or help out with Dad.
- Your adult child says: Why are you sending Dad to that adult day place? He doesn’t need that and he’s not like those other people! He should be at home with you. You’re always at home anyway.
- You could say: It really upsets me when you tell me how I should be doing things without first understanding the real situation with your father.
- Your aunt says: This kitchen isn’t as clean as she used to keep it! And that living room looks like it hasn’t been dusted in weeks! Do you even try to keep your mom’s house clean?
- You could say: It makes me feel unappreciated when you focus on what else needs to be done instead of recognizing all the things that I already do for my mom.
3. Politely stand up for yourself
- Your brother says: You’re obviously neglecting mom! You don’t even bathe her every day. She loves to be clean and shower every day.
- You could say: I’m not neglecting Mom. Because of her Alzheimer’s, she’s developed a fear of bathing. Her doctor said that we only need to do it twice a week. Her clothes are always clean and she’s healthy, well-fed, and happy. It’s clear that I’m doing a great job caring for her.
The next time someone tries to tell you how you should be caring for your older adult, improve your own health by counting to ten and trying one of these responses.