• Living with Heart Failure: How Your Caregivers Can Help You

    3/31/2015

    If you have been diagnosed with heart failure (your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs for oxygen and nutrients), don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones and caregivers for help. While some forms of help will put greater demands on the people you love, you may be surprised by how many smaller measures can make a difference. The tips below can help you get started.

    Communicate

    Ask the person who is offering to help what he or she is willing and able to do. Be willing to accept help from others. Spread tasks out among your family and friends. If there is something you need particular help with, don’t be afraid to ask. Be specific. Some people may want to help but not feel sure of how they can do so.

    Ask for Help with Simplifying Tasks or Making Them Easier for You

    If you have trouble doing some tasks now that were not difficult for you before, ask for help from loved ones. If you need railings or other assists installed in your house, suggest that to a loved one who is handy. If you have trouble thinking clearly because of reduced blood flow to the brain, suggest that you and a caregiver sit down and draft checklists or schedules to remind you of tasks such as watering the plants or taking medication.

    Ask Caregivers to Help You Make Cooking and Exercising Fun

    You may have a lot of new lifestyle changes to make. Find ways to include your family or friends in making these changes enjoyable. Try cooking a new heart-healthy recipe with a friend and make additional servings that you can freeze and reheat later in the week.

    Respect Boundaries

    It is perfectly okay to ask for help. However, respect your caregivers’ needs for time to do the activities they enjoy or to work toward goals that are important to them. Also, make sure that those who want to help you respect your feelings as well. Make use of the medical professionals and support groups that are available to you to support your daily physical and emotional needs. If you use all the resources available to you, your caregivers will have the time and energy to take better care of you and themselves, and you can be prepared to accept the help you need.

    Learn More

    If you have newly diagnosed heart failure, you may find that you need more help than you did when your heart was healthy. Don’t be afraid to seek the support of others. Your support network will include your friends, family, your heart failure care team and support groups.