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15March

The Top Five Tips for Handling Difficult Conversations When You’re A Caregiver

Caregiving Tips To Help Make Your Days Easier To Manage

When you’re a caregiver, it can feel like any conversation you have with the person you’re taking care of is a difficult conversation. Between trying to find the “perfect time” (e.g. not in between their favorite television show) to have the conversation, to having to work up the courage to talk about a variety of topics that can range from bad behavior to health issues; difficult conversations can feel like “par for the course” as a caregiver. But, can I tell you that no matter how many challenging conversations you have, you never feel like an expert. You never feel like, “this is an easy one” or “I can do this one with my eyes closed”. The only that I’ve learned that helps is experience. So, here are my “top five tips” to handling difficult conversations. Seek to be understood

  1. Stop and pray before you speak- It’s so natural to want to blurt it out. Have you ever heard of “verbal diarrhea”? Once it comes out, you can’t take it back. Prayer changes things and perspectives. That moment of solitude and surrender will give you the clarity to communicate clearly, and that’s what you need. You want to make sure they hear and understand.
  2. Don’t get mad when they interrupt you- It’s natural for people to interject when they hear something that they don’t like. You should be used to this as a caregiver or parent ;-). Let them get out what they have to say, and when they’re done, go back to where you left off. Don’t miss a beat. That was also possibly a diversion tactic on their part. If you get mad at them, you totally focus on the anger, and the message becomes lost or forgotten.
  3. Pace yourself and ask questions to ensure they understand - Sometimes we get so nervous that we start speaking like we’re in a race. SLOW DOWN!! They can only follow and understand so much. Remember you want this to be a conversation. So, speak and be quiet. That gives them a chance to speak. If there is no answer, then ask them the following questions:  A. Do you want me to repeat what I just said? B. If they say “yes”, then ask them to repeat what you just said to ensure understanding. If they say “no”, then ask them what part they didn’t understand.

Your main goal is to ensure understanding. This also helps create the conversation. You’re communicating and they’re communicating. It’s a win/win for everyone ;-)

  1. Don’t be afraid of emotion (tears, anger, etc.)- Emotion is always going to be a part of difficult conversations, and it can come from you or them. Just don’t be afraid of it, because our vulnerabilities are beautiful. Just don’t let them prevent you from getting out the message. Because, no matter what. You still have to have the conversation.
  2. Understand if they don’t receive what you told them at the moment- Not all conversations are going to end perfectly. Especially, when they deal with sensitive issues. Don’t be afraid to walk away with no resolution. You can’t force someone to see your point of view. You have to be willing to give them the time and space to come to the best conclusion for them.

I know these sound like basic tips. But, a great conversation is built on the basics. It’s all about being heard and understood. So, strive to do this in all of your conversations.

As caregivers, it’s easy to get frustrated when we have these conversations. Many times we believe the person we’re taking care of doesn’t understand, so we stop using these techniques when talking to them. But, no matter what the circumstances may be, we still have to try.

I hope these tips will help you. Please share any tips you have in the comments. I’m still learning the best ways to deal with difficult conversations too. So, any tips you can share our greatly appreciated. Until we meet again!!

 

XO

Posted in Front Page, Caregiving

Comments (64)

  • Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    16 March 2015 at 10:50 |
    This is great advice. I know it can be hard, but with these steps hopefully it will be a little easier.

    reply

  • Terri Ramsey Beavers

    Terri Ramsey Beavers

    16 March 2015 at 12:56 |
    These are some really great tips. I'm not a caregiver but I know if anything ever happens to my mom I would have to be.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:22 |
      Thanks Terri! Unfortunately, that's how it was for many of us. I'm thankful that you don't have to be a caregiver. But, if you ever find yourself in that situation, please reach out. Caregiving is a village, and we have to support each other :-).

      reply

  • Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    16 March 2015 at 13:06 |
    These are great tips! I've had elderly family members who had to be cared for. It can be a tough situation for everyone.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:21 |
      Thank you Stacie ;-)

      reply

  • CourtneyLynne

    CourtneyLynne

    16 March 2015 at 13:15 |
    these are great tips! I don't know why most people are scared of showing emotion. I always show emotion, I'm a cancer zodiac so that might explain why lol... But I think it's a good thing! Care givers should remember that it's good to let people know how you feel ;-)

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:20 |
      Thanks CourtneyLynne! Emotions are tough for us. I think it's because you get afraid that you won't be able to control them. But, I definitely agree we have to be willing to share how we feel. It's the only way someone can help us balance everything.

      reply

  • Life as a Convert

    Life as a Convert

    16 March 2015 at 15:58 |
    I think patience and understanding are two traits that a caregiver should have. It makes for a smoother relationship.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:19 |
      I agree! Thanks for sharing!

      reply

  • lisa @bitesforbabies

    lisa @bitesforbabies

    16 March 2015 at 16:59 |
    These are some really great tips. Very informative and easy to implement.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:18 |
      Thank you ;-)

      reply

  • lisa

    lisa

    16 March 2015 at 17:09 |
    My in laws have a caregiver and they recently had a falling out. They had to talk it through to get passed it but it was an emotional thing.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:18 |
      I'm glad they were able to talk it out Lisa. Emotions typically run high because we all just want to be heard. I hope things are going well for your in laws.

      reply

  • Kori Tomelden

    Kori Tomelden

    16 March 2015 at 19:13 |
    These are all really great tips. Being a caregiver, at any stage, isn't easy. But you definitely have to respect all points of view.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:16 |
      Thank you Kori :-)!!

      reply

  • Ricci

    Ricci

    16 March 2015 at 19:48 |
    I work at a hospital and I think these "rules" could work their too. I find myself getting frustrated when people ask me to repeat things because they honestly didn't hear me and so I find myself taking cleansing breaths before I just blurt something out.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:15 |
      I could only imagine. Hospitals are so stressful to me. Try them out, and hopefully they can make it more bearable. Good luck!

      reply

  • Chubskulit Rose

    Chubskulit Rose

    16 March 2015 at 21:03 |
    These are some sound advise. I believe on your number one list. Sometimes, we hurt someone's feelings by what we say even without us knowing.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:13 |
      This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I have to work on it daily. But, I'm thankful it's getting better :-)

      reply

  • Nina Say

    Nina Say

    16 March 2015 at 22:03 |
    Letting being interrupted roll right off is very important. It will happen....a lto.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      16 March 2015 at 22:12 |
      So true Nina! So very true :-)

      reply

  • Elizabeth O.

    Elizabeth O.

    16 March 2015 at 22:49 |
    These are all helpful for our caregivers! It takes patience and understanding to be one…

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:56 |
      Thank you Elizabeth!!

      reply

  • Liz Mays

    Liz Mays

    16 March 2015 at 23:57 |
    We're dealing with this to some extent with our mom now. She's at the point where her care is reliant on others and it's very overwhelming and confusing to her.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:55 |
      Hi Liz!
      I definitely send prayers and encouragement to your family. My mom experiences what your mom is feeling. Unfortunately, its a common effect of being in a caregiving situation. Our parents have to relinquish their independence, and it's hard for them. It's also hard for you. I felt like I was becoming the mom, and my mom was the child. The role reversal will really mess with you. But, try to do little things to remind her of who she is in your life. Talk about the fun times in your childhood. Share a laugh about a wonderful moment that you shared. Or just simply let her know that no matter what happens, she'll always be your mom. It will help reduce her stress, and will make it easier for you to bear. Be patient with her and yourself. Be blessed :-)

      reply

  • Victoria

    Victoria

    16 March 2015 at 23:58 |
    These tips are helpful. Just a sad topic as most people who are caregivers are for their elderly parents and they are in the sandwich generation now which can be stressful

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:50 |
      Thanks Victoria! Caregiving is a growing epidemic for our country. I really hope that conversations like this will spark support and real changes to address this challenge.

      reply

  • Donna Ward

    Donna Ward

    17 March 2015 at 10:26 |
    Pam , each point is so important - and also shows your own experience - I am particularly going to remember the - "Understand if they don’t receive what you told them at the moment"

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:48 |
      Thank you Donna!!

      reply

  • Lynndee

    Lynndee

    17 March 2015 at 10:54 |
    This totally brought back memories when we were caring for my grandparents. It was difficult. Great tips, by the way. I'll remember these.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:48 |
      Thanks Lyndee! It always amazes me how many of us have been caregivers.

      reply

  • Yona Williams

    Yona Williams

    17 March 2015 at 15:53 |
    This is good advice. I was a caregiver for a relative with cancer before, and to me, the hardest part of the communication process was answering their questions and playing an active role in their wellbeing. When I'd be asked for advice, it pained me to give my opinion or suggestions. Like you said, we are not experts, and how can we guide them to make the 'right' decisions for them?

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:47 |
      So true Yona! I just strive to do my best, and share my experiences in the hopes someone will be helped. Caregiving truly takes a village.

      reply

  • Bonnie @ wemake7

    Bonnie @ wemake7

    17 March 2015 at 19:04 |
    I was a caregiver to a lot of people over many years until I physically couldn't work anymore. It was hard at times but patience really helped.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:45 |
      Thanks Bonnie! Patience is a work in progress for me. I definitely will keep working on it. Thanks for the reminder :-)

      reply

  • Cara (@StylishGeek)

    Cara (@StylishGeek)

    17 March 2015 at 19:50 |
    Your post reminds me of a book I read called Crucial Conversations. Your tips definitely applies to everyone and I appreciate it. It makes us better listeners (which is the key to communicating and understanding). Thanks for sharing!

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:44 |
      Thank you Cara! I'm definitely going to check out that book :-)

      reply

  • Jesica H

    Jesica H

    17 March 2015 at 20:00 |
    What wonderful advice, I am not a caregiver but a mom and manager, and I think your point could carry over to several different situations!

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:44 |
      Thank you Jessica!

      reply

  • Chrystal @ YUM eaitng

    Chrystal @ YUM eaitng

    17 March 2015 at 21:08 |
    In some way , most of us are caregivers whether it be husbands, wife, kids, parents , grandparents. It can be stressful in some circumstances. My in laws have things in place, they all worked in the medical field, so they are going to be taken care of should they need it. My mother doesnt have the means for that, so we know she will live with us soon.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      17 March 2015 at 21:43 |
      That's a tough realization Chrystal. The best thing I can suggest is trying to start having those tough conversations (e.g. money, wills, insurance, heath care, etc.) with your mom now. I didn't have the opportunity to really understand what I was going to face once my mom moved in. Try to get in front of it, it makes the frustration easier to bear. Good luck!!

      reply

  • Sharon

    Sharon

    17 March 2015 at 22:48 |
    Whenever I have tough conversations I always tell myself, don't interrupt, their words, feelings and opinions are just as valid as mine and I need to let them talk

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:19 |
      Me too Sharon! But, it's not easy :-). I hope this will make us both better. Have a great rest of the week!

      reply

  • Jeanine

    Jeanine

    17 March 2015 at 22:58 |
    This is great advice! I agree with so many of the other wonderful comments. This is very important and being a mom, and I'm sure a caregiver for the rest of my life this is great!

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:18 |
      Thanks Jeanine! Moms are the ultimate caregivers to me. I'm glad you enjoyed them :-)!

      reply

  • christina aliperti

    christina aliperti

    17 March 2015 at 23:33 |
    These are really good tips and I think every caregiver can learn from them. Thank you for sharing this, it is much needed.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:17 |
      Thank you Christina!!

      reply

  • Rosey

    Rosey

    18 March 2015 at 01:23 |
    Slowing down is a good tip. I tend to say things without realizing I KNOW what I'm talking about, but the other person needs some context/support for it. ;)

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:16 |
      Me too Rosey :-)
      I hope this helps both of us be better communicators. I support you, and you support me :-)
      Good luck! We can do it!

      reply

  • Amby Felix

    Amby Felix

    18 March 2015 at 04:12 |
    These are great tips! My auntie used to care for my grandma full time and I know it was difficult for her at times.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:15 |
      Thank you!

      reply

  • Cherri Megasko

    Cherri Megasko

    18 March 2015 at 11:11 |
    We just went through this so I understand what you're saying. It is very difficult but something that needs to be done.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:15 |
      Thank you Cherri! I hope that these types of conversations will contribute to others understanding the challenges caregivers face too. This is a growing problem, and it's going to take all of us to fix it. Have a great rest of the week!

      reply

  • Modern Pilgrim Blog

    Modern Pilgrim Blog

    18 March 2015 at 16:29 |
    I really like number one. That is probably the first thing that we should do in every challenging situation. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and seek guidance.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:14 |
      Thank you :-)

      reply

  • HilLesha

    HilLesha

    18 March 2015 at 17:51 |
    Wonderful post! Personally, I have never been a caregiver. My mom has been several times when I was younger, though. Two of them were uncles, one had had a stroke (still living) and the other had dementia (deceased). Even then, I had learned that caregiving takes a lot of time and patience.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:13 |
      Thank you! Caregiving is definitely very overwhelming. God bless your mom for doing it multiple times. Patience is a lesson that I work on daily. I appreciate your support. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

      reply

  • rochkirstin

    rochkirstin

    18 March 2015 at 21:29 |
    It's a good lesson to stop and pray before speaking. This means really thinking about the words and manner on how you express yourself so you won't hurt other's feelings.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      18 March 2015 at 23:11 |
      Thank you! Prayer really has helped balance things for me. Be blessed :-)

      reply

  • Christy

    Christy

    19 March 2015 at 12:04 |
    Stopping and praying is so important and can be so hard to do in the midst of hurt feelings. Thank you for these friendly reminders.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      24 March 2015 at 22:05 |
      Thank you Christy!

      reply

  • Sara

    Sara

    21 March 2015 at 08:18 |
    I think everyone needs to stop and think before they say something that could hurt. People seem so obsessed with free speech that they seem to forget they have a responsibility to care for others' feelings and own what they said, also.

    reply

    • Pam

      Pam

      24 March 2015 at 22:05 |
      Agreed Sara! It's so easy to speak, and so much harder to think about others.

      reply

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