Thank you so much for reaching out.
In most families, there are only a select few that provide the majority of “hands-on” care to an aging loved one. However, those offering their advice regarding how care should be given can feel like it is coming in droves! This advice might be from family members who are not living close-by, a neighbor who cared for her aging parent, a gentleman from church who read an article about caregiving, etc.
We have found that most advice is given with the best of intentions. However, to a stressed caregiver, it can come across as critical. If the advice is coming from a stranger or acquaintance, it is best to simply say “thank you for caring” and then take the advice that is appropriate to your situation.
If you feel that the person does care and the contact is more frequent, it can be helpful to those obviously trying to help you by making very specific requests for assistance. Examples of this might include: “With mom’s dementia, it can be difficult getting out of the house for groceries – could you sit with her next Tuesday morning for a few hours while I run to the store?” When some tasks are delegated this can take stress off of you, allow those who do care to take part in the care, and can increase the amount of understanding and empathy shared by all parties.
Another way to receive information that does not feel like criticism is to ask for specifically what you would like to know – instead of allowing others to have to creatively come up with tips to provide you which may be inappropriate. For example, with your neighbor who cared for her aging parent, ask “Did your parent ever need help with _______ (fill in whatever is appropriate to your situation here)? What helped for you?” Our connections are often our own best and most supportive resource and specific advice can be helpful if sought out – even though the other caregiver may have had different circumstances.
If the advice-giver is consistently providing “advice” that is negative or belittling to you as a caregiver, you can choose to walk away from that relationship or to kindly let them know how their help is making you feel. We often find that others are not even aware that their attempt to help can actually be hurtful and getting this out in the open can be healing for the relationship.
Wishing the best to you and yours! Lisa