Caregiver Corner: Receiving Care

Mar 22, 2023

Receiving Care by Elizabeth Russell

We read about how to be a caregiver, but how does one receive care well? And what are the possible consequences of choosing not to receive care well? Read on for some thoughts about care receiving.
First, this sounds simple, but be polite. Even better, treat others the way you want to be treated. You don’t have to be happy, but you should try to be patient. It can be especially difficult to be pleasant when in pain, or having a difficult day, but save venting and yelling for a friend or family member.

Make a list of your needs and wants. If you’re out of food in the fridge, that would take precedence over wanting help folding your laundry. Needs are things you must have to get by, like electricity or food. A want is something you’d like, but you’d survive without it. Lists also allow you to never forget an important need.
Health changes can happen quickly or gradually. If something has changed, especially after a stay in the hospital or rehab center, explain your new limitations to your caregiver so they can adjust as needed.
Explain your needs. Tell the caregiver exactly what you would like to happen.

For example, instead of saying “I need a shower,” perhaps you mean:

I’m getting in the shower now, please check if you hear me fall OR
I’d like to shower, but I need help getting a towel out of the closet OR
I spilled my coffee and need to tidy up and get a clean shirt on.

Some care may not be possible by all caregivers. There may be a ‘no hands on’ restriction from the caregiver’s company; many have this policy. There’s no need to berate the caregiver, they can’t change company policies. Being argumentative doesn’t change the policy, it only makes the caregiver uncomfortable.
Yelling at or being supercritical of a caregiver will usually result in them not wanting to return. They can and will refuse to come back. There are an extremely limited number of caregivers, and this could very well leave you on your own.

But that doesn’t mean you should pay a caregiver for spending a lot of time on their phone or your couch. If the caregiver has a sick child and needs to call home, that’s reasonable. Your caregiver is a human, too, so talk to them if you think they’re not using their time effectively. It helps to use statements using “I” instead of “you.” Just remember to try to say something positive when you also have something negative to say. For example: “I love how tidy the bathroom is, but I thought the sheets were in need of changing?” sounds like an invitation to discuss a problem, rather than being blamed for forgetting something. Remember, we’re all in this together!

Elizabeth Russell serves as TOI’s Aging Services Specialist providing in-home care services and resources to older adults.
For more information, please call NY Connects at 607-687-4120 or visit

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