Tactful Responses to Bad Care

The moment may come when you see or overhear a professional caregiver -- a home aide, a nurse at a facility, a physician, an assistant -- say or do something to your loved one that rubs you the wrong way. In fact, it may indeed have been the wrong approach. You'll always feel better by speaking up, in a tactful way, than by saying nothing. (And you might help your loved one, or someone else's, be treated better next time.)

In her wonderful guide, Talking to Alzheimer's: Simple Ways to Connect When You Visit With a Family Member or Friend, Claudia J. Strauss suggests the following:

  • Point out the problem privately afterward: "I wonder if there might be another way to do that? I'm not sure why, but that didn't feel too comfortable for me hearing it, so I imagine it wasn't too comfortable for you, either. What do you think?"

  • Reassure your loved one, too. Hug and say, "That was odd. Are you okay?" Or, "That wasn't right. I'm really surprised by it." Or simply, "I'm sorry that happened."


over 3 years ago, said...

its difficult to be tactful when you hold the belief that professionals are working to care for your loved one...cna's however only need 70 something hours of training so i no longer consider them professionals in interpersonal relationships or alzheimer's care...i know more than the cna's at this point....however, i agree tactful is better and likely results in a better outcome entirely...start with tactful but if the problem recurs get tough...


over 3 years ago, said...

Helpful but need more tactful ways.....please


over 3 years ago, said...

Privately speaking to them is not always possible. I took my husband with dementia to the dental office for x-rays and cleaning. The x-ray gal never looked at him, told me I had to leave him during the x-rays. I spoke up; asked her name, introduced her to my spouse and told him who she was. Then told her when the hygenist came, she would have to be introduced to him as well before any work could proceed. She accepted my comments wasn't friendly to either of us! Fortunately, the hygenist was the exact opposite; she told me she had worked with dementia patients in a former workplace.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Unfortunately I have found the nice approach never works, for most the only language they understand is to tell it like it is. Beating around the bush you are not heard. You may be liked a bit better using tact because most people cannot handle the truth. Tact saves big ego's.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Yes very helpful its always quite difficult to approach a situation like this as the care assistant(s) is with mum all the time and its always a niggling feeling that if I say something - it may have a detrimental effect on mums care. Thank you again.


almost 4 years ago, said...

In my case the caregiver is my mother, and it is difficult to say something to her when she is being selfish and saying hurtful things to my dad when he doesn't respond the way she wants. But you are correct, I feel better saying something to her, reminding my mother that my dad does not realize what he is saying or doing and to not take it personal. I too feel her frustration when my dad is "difficult", but remind myself of his disease and that his actions and words are not directed personally towards me.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thanks for the tackfull approach. I am not tackfull and go straight to the point and always comes out wrong and everyone gets confessed and then it's awkward afterwards.


over 4 years ago, said...

Sounds more like tiger mama. Good for you!


over 4 years ago, said...

I had a physician talk to my father like he was 2 years old. I told him that my father had a masters degree in petroleum engineering and he didn't deserve to be talked to like a child. Probably wasn't too tactful, but it sure made me feel better and gave my father a laugh when the doctor had no response.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My mother was in a nursing home during the late stages of Alzheimer's. We were fourtunate because my sister-in-law was the speech therapist at the facility, so she kept a close eye on mom. We still had issues that we witnessed and found staff willing to listen and make changes. Being tactful and respectful are key. The goal is to resolve issues for your loved one and make their experience better.


about 5 years ago, said...

The author didn't really give any helpful insight. Point out the problem afterward privately is fine. But the answer was too "pat." I think it would have been better to start with the I statement of "I was very uncomfortable with your approach, care, words, etc., to my mother/father/friend, etc. I felt that it was (whatever you felt it was). You may acknowledge that the job they have is difficult and maybe they are having a bad day, etc. and then ask if there is anything or any way it could be done differently next time. By starting out with the statement I wonder if there might be another way to do that (whatever "that" is) may put the hearer on the defensive