A Dozen Things You Should Never Say to a Caregiver

If you are a patient who is blessed with the attention of a caregiver, or if you are the family member or friend of a caregiver who is watching over another person, then it may be difficult to know what to say and do. He or she has an enormous responsibility and may often be overwhelmed by the process, so help to care for them by knowing some of the things that you should never say to a caregiver.

Things You Should Never Say to a Caregiver

“About one in three Americans is providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or elderly,” and “78 percent of the caregivers said they needed help.” That’s more than 3/4 of caregivers who admitted to needing a little extra assistance in their work, and doesn’t take into account those who may benefit from aid, but who don’t speak up. It’s so important that we are gracious and respectful with these people, so learn some of the kinds of things you should never say to a caregiver if you want to help them as much as you can.

For example, if you don’t intend to follow through, then don’t say something like “let me know if you need anything.” Making a vague promise and then not actually intending to help, especially if they really need it, is a disappointing blow to the caregiver. In fact, if you really do want to help, then you should extend a specific offer, like bringing them dinner or watching the person they care for for an evening.

Something else that you should never say to a caregiver is “you have to make time for yourself.” Even though this is absolutely true, the person likely already knows this, and it’s not productive to have it repeated to them. It may be that they just can’t be away from their charge at the moment and that there isn’t anyone else to help, so having you tell them that they need a break is likely frustrating.

It can be uncomfortable to talk to the caregiver about what they have to do, and about the person that they’re taking care of, but a true friend should reach out and offer to have those conversations if the caregiver needs it. Otherwise, they’ll have fewer and fewer outlets, and that can really build up. Practice considerate listening and provide an outlet so your friend or family member can get some of that tension off their chest. Things like this are easier when shared.

These are just a few of the kinds of things you should never say to a caregiver, but certainly not all of them. Be mindful of what that person is going for when you interact with them, and do everything you can to make the process easier.

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