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Getting criticized is unpleasant – especially from family or friends who don’t lift a fi nger to help care for your older adult.

Yelling or getting upset might feel justified in the moment, but it won’t reduce your stress or cut down on future comments.

You might even feel worse later because you didn’t get your point across or say what you really wanted. To help you change the tone of the conversation and hopefully reduce future criticism, we share 3 different ways to respond to caregiver criticism.

1. Acknowledge their concern, then ask what they’d suggest instead When someone criticizes how you did something, it’s automatic to snap back defensively.

But that’s only going to cause a shouting match that will leave your blood boiling and won’t stop the criticism from happening again. Next time, acknowledge their concern and ask for their suggestions on how to improve. You might not be interested in their opinion, but because they’re probably expecting a fight, this response will surprise them and change the tone of the conversation.

2. Repeat the criticism back to show how it made you feel Some people don’t think before they speak and don’t realize they’ve hurt your feelings or come across as critical. It might be possible to let them know that what they said was not acceptable without starting a fight. Try this by calmly repeating what they said back to them, but frame it as an “I” statement.

3. Politely stand up for yourself Some criticism is completely out of line. In these cases, you should absolutely stand up for yourself. Th e trick is to do it calmly and politely. Th at way, the person saying those things will be more likely to listen and think twice before saying things like that again.

For example:

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 disease, she’s developed a fear of bathing so 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 Mom is very well cared for

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