Do You Get Caregiver Criticism from Family or Friends? 3 Reasons Why

caregiver criticism

Why would someone criticize you as a caregiver?

Caring for a parent or spouse is an even bigger challenge when family or friends feel free to criticize you. Especially if they aren’t even helping with caregiving.

We share 3 reasons why they may be saying these negative and unfair things – that have very little to do with you.

We also explain how getting a better understanding of what’s behind their comments helps you deal with them, takes the edge off your anger, and reduces your stress.



Avoid fights with better understanding

It may sound crazy to try to figure out why someone is being critical of you, but taking a step back and understanding their motivation can help you see their comments more objectively.

It’s never OK for someone to talk to you in a disrespectful or mean way, but if they’re struggling with denial or clumsily trying to help, you might choose to handle their remarks in a different way.

The real goal is to reduce stress and keep your blood pressure from spiking.

Avoiding getting sucked into a fight and keeping those comments from getting stuck in your head goes a long way to improving your health and well-being.


3 reasons behind the caregiver criticism

1. They have their own issues and are taking them out on you
That mean comment might have nothing to do with you.

When some people feel badly about themselves, they take it out on other people. They feel “less than” so as a defense mechanism, they put you down to make themselves feel better.

They might be lashing out because they feel:

  • Threatened because you’re doing a fantastic job caring for mom.
  • Guilty for not participating in dad’s care.
  • Insecure or hurt because you (spouse) are needed and wanted and they (adult child) aren’t.
  • Jealous because you’re now the favorite person.
  • Greedy. If they want your mom’s money, they might be worried that you’re going to get it because you’re caring and dedicated and they’re not.


2. They can’t cope with what’s happening
Other people have a hard time dealing with illness or change. If your parent or spouse needs a lot of help, it’s probably because their health has gotten worse.

These type of critics might say mean things because they’re scared or in denial.

Your caregiving actions are making the reality of the situation very clear, but since they can’t cope with what’s happening, they resort to inappropriate comments.


3. They’re trying to help, but communicate poorly
In some cases, someone may be trying to make a helpful suggestion, but it’s coming across as a criticism.

Even though they’re not expressing themselves clearly (or tactfully), their intentions are actually good and their comment could actually be useful.


Next Step  Get 3 effective ways to respond when family or friends criticize your caregiving


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Moving Solutions


  • Reply June 21, 2021


    Good morning! Thank you for this article. My 90 yr old mother-in-law was recently released from skilled nursing and we have just set her up with hospice care. It’s already been a blessing! The frustrating part is that my husband’s siblings (who MIGHT see her once a year) insist that she is addicted to her pain medication and should be put on a withdrawal program. While we know there is a drug dependency, at this point, we are just trying to keep her as comfortable and safe as we possibly can. I’m so exhausted (and heartbroken) with their inability to accept that she isn’t going to “recover” from aging and that her pain is real. Thank you for letting me vent!

    • Reply June 21, 2021


      Thank you for sharing your story! We’re so glad that hospice is working out well and providing the care your mother-in-law needs. It’s unfortunate that your husband’s siblings haven’t tried to understand the situation and why these medications are necessary for your mother-in-law’s comfort and quality of life.

      • Reply July 1, 2021


        I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a difficult time. I can relate. I was a sole caregiver for several years. Unfortunately, we had very judgemental neighbors who liked to interfere and only made things worse. They had no idea what they are doing, apart from going on a first aid course, several years ago but felt free to criticize everything I did. There were times when they would turn up, unannounced, were rude to me and upset my mother. They used to bang on the door and moan about everything. I felt that I was trying my best and these people only made things harder. All I can say is ‘Karma’. One day it might be them, struggling and getting little support. What goes around, comes around. Chin up, Evette. You sound like you’re doing a great job.

  • Reply September 19, 2019

    Frustrated With Neighbors Interfering in Elder Care

    My husband is an only child dealing with his mother’s altheimer’s in another state. She has been taken advantage of by a real estate agent, repair men and family members. My mother in law thinks she is perfectly capable, and she is not. It has gotten so bad that he filed for emergency guardianship – which he received. Now, my mother in law hates him, and refuses to speak to either one of us, and then tells her neighbors and friends horrible lies about us. My husband has done everything by the book – hired 24 hour care givers at home, hired an advocate to deal with her day to day needs (especially since she won’t talk to us), trying to keep her diginity, kept elder abusers away – no easy task! Her neighbors/friends have “sided” with her. They have no idea that what she is telling them is not true, they have no idea of her medical problems, and no idea of what her day is like outside of their hour long lunch with her. NO ONE has written about this on the internet. It is incredibly hurtful to be seen as a villian, and it’s shocking that they are putting their noses where they don’t belong. What to do? He has experienced their interference and glares. I have talked to a few people about this, and some (or a friend of theirs) have experienced the same thing. How do you deal with these judgemental neighbors and friends?!?

    • Reply September 20, 2019


      Many people don’t truly understand what it means when someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia. If they’re willing to listen and you don’t mind trying to talk to these folks, it may help to educate them about the disease. You could print out some information and share it with them to help them understand why your husband has had to make these choices to protect his mother.

      Of course, this is completely optional. You aren’t obligated to explain the situation to others. You can’t control what other people think or say and in this case, you may just need to let it go and focus your energy on making sure your mother-in-law is safe and getting the care she needs.

      If someone is actually interfering with her care, that’s a different situation. In that case, you would have to speak with them to explain the situation and ask them not to do anything that you and your husband haven’t approved so they don’t accidentally do something that would harm your mother-in-law.

      On the other hand, it’s nice that she’s able to socialize with her neighbors and friends. Often, when someone has dementia, friends seem to disappear and the person can become isolated and lonely.

      You’re right that this is a common issue. We’ve got a couple of articles that may help you understand and manage her false accusations:
      — ​8 Ways to Deal with False Dementia Accusations
      — Responding to 4 Common Dementia Accusations: Stealing, Poisoning, Being Held Prisoner

      This article may also be helpful — 3 Ways to Deal with Family in Denial About Seniors Needing Help

      You may also find it helpful to join a caregiver support group. There are many people dealing with similar situations. We’ve got some recommendations here:
      — Support Groups for Caregivers on Facebook
      — 8 Benefits of Caregiver Support Groups

  • Reply December 30, 2018


    I’ve taken care of my baby brother, all household, shop, laundry etc for over 2 yrs. My older brother takes him to lunch 2-3 times a year. I ask to be covered for one appt, but older brother throws it on me and says “I cant help someone who wont help themselves”, because I wont tell him my reason to need a break. My health is at risk. He has resources I dont have. I drive 3 hrs round trip every day to caregive. Now my baby brother is saying the same trash. If I stop, nobody will be there. Now my son broke his back and needs my time. My choice is help my son.
    My older brother is retired like me but Wine parties are more important than family. Same when mom and dad were sick. He was too busy.

  • Reply July 13, 2018

    Suz e Lyon

    Hi. I’ve been having a hard time. 😢

    • Reply July 14, 2018


      I’m so sorry that things have been rough lately 🙁 You’re definitely not alone in this. Talking with others in similar situations is often helpful. You might like some of the private support groups on Facebook. You can read other people’s stories and questions, comment, and maybe share some of your own experiences if you like. Here’s more information and our top group recommendations —

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