Coping with Caregiver Criticism

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This cartoon about Noah's Ark Complaints Department was on Pinterest and it made us think about caregivers who move heaven and earth to keep everyone afloat… and all they get for their efforts is a lot of hemmin' and hawin'.

So often, we hear family members say things like:

"I try so hard to make Dad happy, but nothing I do is ever good enough."

"Mom has always been so sweet-natured, but now all she does is complain."

Most of the time, caregivers realize that they can't take all the criticism personally – relying so heavily on a loved one can be difficult for anyone. When Alzheimer's and/or other illnesses are added to the mix, it can become normal for a senior to lash out or grow resentful. Still, it's hard for even the most even-keeled among us to not get worn down by a constant stream of negative feedback.

We often refer people to for information and resources to help in various situations. Here are some great tips from that site for neutralizing negativity.

Get to the Root of the Problem: Sometimes constant complaints are a cry for help. If your senior loved one has ramped up their fault-finding, make an effort to figure out and fix what can be fixed: whether it's depression, a problem in the environment or something that is causing them pain or discomfort.

Listen and Acknowledge with Compassion: It's tough not to get defensive when someone is reproaching you at every turn, but practicing patient and compassionate listening allows you to bring some dignity to the situation and is a great kindness you can show to someone who is clearly going through a challenging time.

Stay Positive: Two negatives do not make a positive so maintaining a glass-half-full approach can be key to your sanity. When you start feeling overwhelmed with all the negatives, change tack by starting a running list of all the things that are going well. By focusing on your gratitude for what is working the way it should, you can start deflecting some of the spirit-zapping energy that is coming your way.

Redirect: We know this isn't as simple as it sounds, but try to get your loved one out of their own head as often as you can. Whether it's an outing or simply playing some music they enjoy, stockpile some distractions that will take them to a more serene place when their irritation threatens to mount.

Take a Break: No matter how devoted you are, no one can – or should – put up with being a punching bag 24-7. Taking some time away will allow you to re-fill your bucket and recharge your batteries.

​For more information about caregiving, or to inquire about a professional CAREGiver, please contact Home Instead Senior Care of Central Oregon at 541-330-6400.


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