Friends and Family
Your role as a carer
Your involvement as a carer of someone with heart failure can range from daily phone calls to assisting with doctor visits to assuming many more responsibilities. Whatever your level of caregiving, remember that what you do is important:
Listen. The heart failure patient has an enormous burden to bear. But being able to express concerns, frustrations and hopes with someone who cares can be a huge comfort and relief. You may not have an answer for every question or be able to do everything that is asked of you, but if you listen with care, you will be providing an invaluable service.
Learn. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the less likely you are to be fearful. You will also better understand what the patient is experiencing.
Support. Encourage the patient to join a support group. Sharing experiences and thoughts with someone who is in the same situation can be very helpful. Hospitals and heart failure clinics usually know of local support groups.
Participate. If you can accompany the patient to doctor appointments, you can help them ask appropriate questions and can take note of the answers. You may also be able to provide the doctor additional information or insights into the patient's condition.
Share. Offer to help the patient manage his or her medication. Exercise together or share meals and cooking responsibilities. Many of the changes in lifestyle that heart failure patients are asked to make can also be beneficial for carers such as stopping smoking, learning to cook heart-healthy meals and exercising. Encourage other family members to get involved too. It can lighten the load for everyone involved and provide the patient with multiple sources of support.
Understand. Sometimes becoming a carer causes a role reversal. For example, if you're caring for a parent, it may suddenly seem like they're the child and you have to "give orders" to them. You may have to take less and give more to someone you've always depended on.