(StatePoint) Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart cannot pump as it should and is unable to meet the oxygen and blood circulation needs of the body. Heart failure currently affects more than 6 million people nationwide. Additionally, of all American adults 40 and older, one in five will develop heart failure in their lifetime, according to the American Heart Association.
If you’re the caregiver to a loved one living with heart failure, you may be wondering how you can help them manage the disease so it doesn’t worsen or lead to life-threatening conditions. Experts say that because a heart failure diagnosis impacts every facet of life and requires decisive lifestyle changes, there are many areas where you can offer assistance.
“Caregivers play an integral part in their loved one’s ability to manage heart failure and live a quality life. From overseeing their care plan to hands-on involvement in daily activities, you can make a real difference in their results,” says Jennifer Sheets, president and CEO of Interim HealthCare Inc., the nation’s leading franchise network of home care, senior care, home health and hospice and healthcare staffing services.
As their caregiver, Sheets says they may be looking to you for assistance with:
• Low-sodium food choices, meal planning and shopping
• Prompting them to take medications at scheduled times
• Monitoring and documenting daily weights
• Informing their doctor of weight gain so medications can be adjusted
• Recognizing and responding to signs of fatigue and shortness of breath
• Identifying and addressing fear, anxiety, apathy, sadness and signs of depression
• Encouraging daily rest to conserve energy for tasks
• Notifying their physician of wheezing or persistent cough
• Examining skin for swelling, breaks or wounds
• Elevating their feet when swelling occurs
• Ensuring they keep their doctor appointments
• Helping them understand the components of self-care
In an effort to help mitigate the nation’s leading chronic condition, Interim HealthCare Inc. recently launched the latest offering in its HomeLife Enrichment series focused on heart failure, which takes a holistic, empowering approach to supporting clients/patients. A key element of this initiative is a new caregiver’s guide, “Caring for a Loved one with Heart Failure,” which provides families with a deeper understanding of the disease and the care protocols -- diet, exercise, rest and medication -- to manage it. To access this resource, visit https://info.interimhealthcare.com/heart-failure-guide.
Sheets also points out that for complex chronic conditions like heart failure, the direction provided by a physician isn’t always enough for the true impact of the diagnosis to sink in. However, high-quality professional care at home can act as an extension of the doctor’s office. In the case of Interim HealthCare, its proprietary training programs enable home health clinicians and paraprofessionals to provide valuable education and assistance to clients/patients and families in familiar surroundings -- at home or in assisted living communities.
“Home healthcare professionals have an intimate, unedited view of an individual’s life and are uniquely suited to provide comprehensive, tailored care,” says Sheets. “Working side-by-side with the individual, their loved ones and their full care teams creates a holistic approach that supports their mind, body, sprit and family.”
For more information or to locate an Interim HealthCare office, visit interimhealthcare.com.
“Ultimately, the road ahead may be challenging. However, you can walk it with them,” says Sheets.
Photo Credit: (c) kali9 / Getty Images