Managing heart failure isn't always easy, and people who've been diagnosed may not be able to do it alone. Physically, they often can't handle all the tasks they once could. The diet and lifestyle changes, medications and depression may be stressful and difficult. Family members and friends provide a much-needed source of care and support.
Healthcare professionals ask people with heart failure to change their lives — by eating differently, remembering medications, paying closer attention to their bodies and reducing stress. Such changes are hard because they often require breaking long-held habits. But they're usually easier when loved ones get involved. If you live with or are close to someone who has heart failure, you're likely to have the greatest impact on their success in following instructions from the healthcare team.
Becoming a caregiver for someone with heart failure requires a long-term commitment of time and energy. As a caregiver, you need a plan and you need support. You're not alone. We've provided a guide to get you started, and there are many support groups to turn to both online and in your community. Ask the healthcare professionals involved in the patient's care for contact numbers and help in giving care. And, most importantly, remember that you have to take care of yourself. With proper planning and support, caregiving can be very rewarding.
Visit our Heart of Caregiving website for tips, tools and resources for looking after yourself while looking after your loved one.
This content was last reviewed on 08/20/2012.