How To Handle Criticism While Caregiving

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Well-meaning advisers try to help but some can cause hurt
 
"You know she's depressed. Take her to a bereavement support group," one of my 84-year-old mother's longtime friends recently advised me about her.

"Try to stay out of her life as much as possible," another counseled, a few months earlier.
"She should be in an assisted living facility," a third insisted before that.

I hadn't asked any of them for advice, only occasional support and company for my mother. But their notion of being helpful was to tell me how I should be a better son and caregiver and change what I was doing.

In each instance I responded as courteously as I could, though I probably showed less enthusiasm for their ideas than they might have desired. Inside, though, I chafed. The suggestions were not wrongheaded in and of themselves, even though they were at cross-purposes with one another. I also knew that these friends were offering advice because they genuinely care about my mother and me. But — call me sensitive — it felt like they were finding fault with my years of concerted caregiving. That didn't help; it made me feel criticized and hurt.

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