February is American Heart Month, a time when the national spotlight shines on heart disease. Heart disease is a stressful and debilitating disease. Symptoms can be frightening and difficult to manage. If you are caring for a loved one with heart disease you know all too well its impact on your loved one and on you as their caregiver. We hope everyone supporting a loved one with heart failure will find this blog helpful to their journey.
UpiftedCare understands the daily emotional and physical challenges of caring for a loved one with heart disease. This month we celebrate American Heart Month by sharing tips to empower caregivers in their efforts to battle this devastating disease.
Five Ways To Care For A Love One With Heart Disease
Preserve Quality of Life. When living with any serious illness, life can feel compromised, especially with heart disease where physical activities can become difficult. Your loved one may no longer be able to enjoy the activities and pastimes that once brought meaning, quality and joy to their lives. Some people living with serious illnesses like heart disease will shut down, no longer having the diversion of a hobby. Though your loved one may become limited in their ability to participate in physical activities they once enjoyed, encourage them to find fulfillment in other ways. Is there a hobby or a craft they were always interested in but never pursued? Activities like adult coloring books, painting by numbers, needle crafts, jewelry making, or learning to play the guitar can help reduce stress and improve happiness. Hobbies can also help take their mind off of their illness and fill their time with something that brings joy, escape and a sense of accomplishment.
Protect Mental Health. Chronically ill people face challenging struggles beyond the physical symptoms and limitations of their disease. Chronic illness is also an emotional and mental journey. Someone living with heart disease is likely to feel isolation and loneliness. They may feel anger, depression, anxiety and hopelessness. Paying attention to your loved one’s mental health can help you understand and offer support when needed. Encourage them to talk honestly about how they feel. Help them understand that these feelings are normal, even expected. Never diminish their feelings. Let them know that they should never feel ashamed about their feelings or that sharing their feelings will make you see them differently. If talking to you does not seem helpful enough then help them consider a support group or a mental health counselor. Many serious illness foundations have support groups online. These communities offer an outlet, reduce feelings of isolation and offer understanding and connection. Their healthcare provider can also make recommendations.
Take Care of Yourself. The most difficult commitment to keep while supporting a loved one with heart failure may be the commitment to your own wellbeing. Realize that if you don’t also take care of yourself, you cannot maintain being the caregiver you want to be for your loved one. Caregiver burnout is real. Not only will it hamper your ability to care for others, but it can cause serious physical and mental health issues. Our blog, Make time for selfcare shares easy self-care tips for busy caregivers.
Know What to Expect. Heart failure is a progressive disease. As the disease progresses your loved one’s symptoms will increase. Symptoms they once tolerated well may become more challenging. You will also notice physical changes like increasing fatigue; more chronic shortness of breath, even at rest; less ability to exercise or needing more help with daily routines like bathing, grooming, and meal preparation. Your loved one may experience frequent trips to the ER or hospitalizations for uncontrolled symptoms. Speak to your loved one’s medical team about what to expect as the disease progresses. Understanding what to expect will help you plan ahead for the additional care you may need to provide. Knowing what to expect will also give you the chance to prepare mentally for the difficulty of watching your loved one become more impacted by their illness.
Understand Available Support. As heart failure progresses it will become more difficult to manage without support. Many caregivers feel it is their responsibility to solely care for their loved one. The reality is that accepting an extra layer of support can improve your loved one’s quality of life. Options like Palliative Care or Hospice Care are focused on reducing the burdens of illness, enhancing quality of life, supporting family caregivers and providing education and resources. Many people don’t realize that hospice care providers like UpliftedCare are experts in symptom management. This expert level of care helps control symptoms to help your loved one live as fully as possible. UpliftedCare also provides real support to caregivers by sharing the care. Just like knowing what to expect, understanding available support can help you ensure your loved one has the best care possible. Our blog 8 Signs Your Loved One With CHF May Benefit From Hospice Care provides insights on when it may be time to consider hospice care.
Caring for a loved one with any heart disease is challenging. You may not have the illness, but in a very real sense you are living it. Heart failure can feel defeating, hopeless and devastating. Try and remember, though you can’t control the disease, you are having a major uplifting impact on your loved one’s well being. We hope these suggestions help. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone.
If you are suffering from heart disease, or if you are supporting a loved one with heart failure, UpliftedCare can help. Whether you are interested in gaining care, or simply just need answers and resources, our team is ready to provide you with the help you need to make the best decision for you and your family, simply give us a call at 815.939.4141 or Get Help Here.