This article was provided by AAA T.L.C.
If you are receiving care from either a friend, family member, or an agency like AAA T.L.C. Healthcare, it is critical to remember that the individual providing care needs to be treated with kindness and respect. Oftentimes, without meaning to, we can say things to caregivers that come off as disrespectful or offensive. Placing yourself in the caregiver’s shoes and empathizing with their point of view can make a noticeable difference in how they approach their work and whether or not they know they are appreciated.
The following guidelines offer helpful communication tips to consider when speaking with the individual caring for your loved one. Each tip provides two scenarios: one in which the caregiver is provided through an agency of if the individual providing care is a friend or family member.
Using the phrase “You should do” can make the individual anxious about whether or not they are providing quality care and cause them to feel judged. In turn, these doubtful feelings can lead to the caregiver having feelings of resentment.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, try brainstorming new approaches to make the heavy load of caregiving a little lighter. Praise the individual’s past helpfulness and clearly let them know what it is you need help with in the future.
- If the caregiver is an individual employed by an agency, show gratitude for their help and start a dialogue about successful approaches to caring for the individual in need that have worked in the past.
Using the phrase “I would do it differently” can be interpreted in a way that makes the caregiver believe they are not doing a sufficient job. It implies that you believe there is only one approach to a task and may arouse a defensive response.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, try to see things from their point of view and make yourself available to identify different ways to provide care to the individual in need.
- If the caregiver is an individual employed by an agency, think about providing specific information about the person who is receiving the care so the caregiver understands the person’s needs in a more efficient way. In turn, the caregiving will be more effective.
Using the phrase “I can’t see him/her that way, it’s too hard” makes it appear that you do not understand how hard the illness has been on the individual who requires assistance and takes the attention away from the person who is in focus.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, understand that it is okay to be impacted by the person’s illness, but that you are not alone in your feelings. It is important to be aware that everyone is impacted by the illness, including the one providing care.
- If the caregiver is an individual employed by an agency, remember that they are there to assist the sick and need to focus all of their attention on the one in need. Consider speaking to a mental health professional about the impact the illness is having on your life. You are not alone.
Using the phrase “You need to care for yourself, you look tired” is an inconsiderate comment. Caregivers are aware of the long hours they often have to work and have very little time for themselves.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, try acknowledging the time and energy they must put into this new job and how it has affected every aspect of their life. Consider offering to provide relief so they may have some time to themselves or help out by making them a home-cooked meal to free up some time for them.
- If the caregiver is an individual provided by an agency, appreciate the help being provided on behalf of your relative or friend, and offer if they would like you to find out whether or not the agency can provide another caregiver for temporary relief.
Using the phrase “I could never do what you’re doing” could unintentionally be interpreted to mean that you believe your work is more important than what the caregiver is doing. While you may believe you are acknowledging how difficult their position is, the phrase unfortunately implies that it is beneath you.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, try having a conversation with them to express how grateful you are for all that they do. Acknowledge that they have had to rearrange their life to provide care for the sick.
- If the caregiver is an individual provided by an agency, show them how appreciative you are of their care by praising their efforts and reassuring them that they are doing a good job.
Using the phrase “You’re a saint!” diminishes the value of the commitment the caregiver has made and simplifies their efforts.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, consider thanking them often for their work and try not to ignore their own personal needs.
- If the caregiver is an individual employed by an agency, praise their work by providing a small, appropriate gift to show them how grateful you are of their efforts.
Using the phrase “let me know how I can help” puts the task upon the caregiver to seek your assistance, something that may be difficult for someone who is already overwhelmed.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, offer specific ways in which you can assist them and let them choose how you can help. For example say, “I can come by this afternoon to give you relief” or “I can run errands for you this week.”
- If the caregiver is an individual employed by an agency, try offering to provided transportation to and from the ailing person’s medical appointments.
Comparing sick adults to caring for children minimizes the difficulties (and differences) of caring for the ill adults. Caring for someone who is sick is significantly different than caring for a child and is unfair to the person who is sick.
- If the caregiver is a loved one, comment on how patient they are with the sick one and praise them when they treat the sick with humanity.
- If the caregiver is an individual employed by an agency, acknowledge that you appreciate the way that they treat the sick person with respect.