What Should You Do When an Elderly Loved One Criticizes You?

Criticism isn’t easy to deal with, and it can be even more hurtful when remarks come from a family member.

It can be difficult to respond appropriately in the heat of the moment, but as a caregiver this is an important task. Here’s what you can do to avoid arguments and hurt feelings the next time you’re the recipient of criticism from an elderly family member.

Consider the Type of Criticism

Criticism takes two forms: constructive and destructive. Constructive criticism involves thoughtful evaluation and includes positive suggestions for improvement in a particular area.

For example:

“When you leave for work, I feel sad to be left alone in the house because I depend on you to keep me company and help me do things around the house. I know you need to work, but I’d prefer if someone stayed in the house with me while you’re away.”

Destructive criticism is given for the sole purpose of pointing out faults or trying to tear another person down.

For example:

“You leave me alone for hours and don’t care about my well-being!”

It’s possible for both types to be communicated in ways perceived as hurtful, so you need to be able to tell the difference between the two types in order to give an appropriate response.

View Comments Objectively

When receiving constructive or destructive criticism from a loved one, resist the natural urge to take every word personally. Instead, take a deep breath and a big mental step back.

Don’t look at your loved one’s criticism as a definitive judgment on your character or choices. Instead try understanding why your loved one is lashing out, and what they are really trying to communicate to you.

Taking a moment to compose yourself before responding can give you the time to decipher what your loved one is really trying to express. From there you can respond appropriately to avoid future confrontations and to meet your loved one’s needs.

Understand the Background

Once you come to a solution, the problem is often not over. Holding onto resentment from deconstructive criticism is easy to do. An important part of being objective, and moving beyond the criticism, is to recognize why you’re being targeted as the recipient.

Does your loved one have a critical personality? Are you his or her caregiver at a late stage of life, and you’re on the receiving end when he or she vents frustrations over the limitations imposed by age?

Sometimes critical remarks can stem simply from someone having a bad day. It’s important to take all of this into account.n the case of constructive criticism, your family member is likely just trying to be helpful.

Always Respond Calmly to Avoid Further Confrontations

Even if your loved one’s criticism is scathing and makes you angry, the best way to deal with it is to be reasonable and calm. Thank him or her for the feedback instead of flying off the handle. Then remove yourself from the situation while you try to analyze what the criticism is really motivated by.

If the criticism included a constructive element, ask for suggestions on how to make the proposed changes or improvements. In most cases, such responses should diffuse the situation, and you can walk away without the incident escalating any further.

Keeping a level head in the face of criticism from a family member prevents the conversation from devolving into a shouting match. If you’re struggling to care for a critical elderly loved one, Caring Home Care can match you with a certified caregiver to help with their needs.

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