Heart failure is scary, but when your loved one knows they have the full support of their family, it lifts their heart, calms their emotions and inspires joy amid their health challenges.
By taking the time to understand what causes heart failure, how to recognize its symptoms and how to respond, you can provide a second layer of support to your loved one, as they begin to navigate the reality of living with heart failure.
When a loved one is facing the challenges of heart failure, having the support of family members makes a significant difference, and has even been linked to lower readmission rates and better medication adherence. Making plans with friends or family members is a great way to de-escalate negative emotions, shifting the focus on to something more positive.
As a caregiver, you can positively influence your family member’s outlook on life. Yes, there are a number of changes they must make to get their heart failure under control, but your courage and determination will make a real difference in their ability to manage their disease.
Rather than dismissing or downplaying difficult emotions, here are some ways you can constructively address them:
- Explain exactly what heart failure is and is not—the name can be deceiving
- Ask them to share how they are feeling
- Combat their fears with knowledge and information
- Remind them that they are not alone
- Focus on the positive aspects of these changes
When guiding and supporting a family member with heart failure, communication is key. Patients who perceive their family members as encouraging, conveying confidence, and providing choices are much more likely to engage in positive health behaviors.
Autonomy is a powerful feeling, and will give your loved one the confidence to make crucial lifestyle changes and regain control of their health.
As you learn the basics of heart failure care and how to support your loved one in practical ways, you’ll gain the confidence to act as a source of encouragement and accountability.
Here are some of the important regimens of heart failure care you and your family should become familiar with:
- Understanding heart failure and how it affects the body
- Recognizing symptoms and how to manage them
- Recording daily weights and notifying their doctor if weight gain exceeds three pounds in a day, or five pounds in a week
- Following the prescribed medication regimen
- Conserving energy and elevating swollen feet and legs
- Adhering to fluid restrictions and a low-sodium diet
- Assisting with oxygen when shortness of breath occurs
- Ensuring medical appointments are kept and the care plan is followed
As a caregiver, being involved in symptom interpretation and response is crucial to the health and well-being of your loved one. Common symptoms your family should look out for are:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in lower extremities
- Rapid weight gain
Self Care Is the Goal
At Interim HealthCare, we’re here to support families by providing the resources, tools and advice they need to be informed and compassionate caregivers. By carefully following the care plan prescribed by a doctor and engaging your family in the care process, you will be equipping your loved one with all they need to gain control of their health and live a quality life.
Our Heart Failure Caregiver’s Guide will provide answers to many of your questions about heart
failure, as well as further guidance on how your loved one can achieve successful self-care.