Tips to Communicating by Phone with Family Members about Caregiving Issues

Nearly 5 million people in the United States today have survived a stroke, affecting four out of five American families. Caring for a stroke survivor can be stressful, and the Minnesota Stroke Association is here to offer support to families and caregivers.

Many times, discussing the care of a family member can be a very difficult topic for all involved. Below are some tips on how to communicate over the phone with family members regarding caregiving issues:

  • Relax before you call. (Anything you can do to collect your thoughts and control your emotions will help you get through the conversation without losing your cool.)
  • Write down what you want to talk about. Having a "script" keeps your mind focused and conversation on track.
  • Pick a good time to call. If the time is inconvenient, ask when you can call back.
  • Be matter of fact about caregiving issues without placing blame or making demands.
  • If the person becomes defensive or says no to your request, focus on keeping calm.
  • Reach out emotionally, acknowledging the difficulty of the situation and the person's concern for your family member.
  • But do return to the main point.
  • Try to get a commitment of some type.
  • Provide an "out" for them even if it is upsetting to you.
  • Express thanks. If they follow through on a commitment, be sure to praise them for their work realizing that it may encourage them to help out in the future.
  • If the person does not follow through, allow yourself time to deal with anger. You want to have your anger in check before you try again.
  • Decide when to stop trying. If you become convinced that you cannot count on the person any longer, then you are free to take him out of the caregiving loop.