What Caregivers Need to Know About Heart Disease

-A +A

Living with heart disease can be a frightening experience, particularly for aging seniors. This debilitating illness forces many to transition from living a normal life to one that is full of medications, lifestyle changes and health uncertainties.

To help overcome the hurdles that accompany this disease, it’s not uncommon for aging adults to turn to family members or close friends for support. In fact, 1.6 million people living with heart failure in the U.S. have a caregiver in their home.

Often times, caregivers may feel nervous or anxious in their new role. They may find themselves having to perform new and unfamiliar tasks such as scheduling doctor’s visits, managing medications and offering emotional support.

In honor of February’s American Heart Month, we’ve listed three ways caregivers can successfully prepare for taking on the challenges of heart disease:

  • Have an action plan and know when to use it. When it comes to heart attacks and strokes, fast action can save lives. To help avoid panic, speak with your loved one’s doctor about what you should do in case of an emergency. That way, in the event your loved one begins experiencing warning signs of a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest, you’ll be prepared to take action.  
  • Take care of yourself. Whether it’s taking an hour off to run some errands or a few days for vacation, it’s important for caregivers to take time for themselves. Doing so can minimize stress and help avoid caregiver burnout. Check out our caregiver stress checklist and talk with a family member, friend or health care provider should you experience any of these feelings.
  • Plan for the future. As the disease runs its course and your loved one’s condition changes overtime, you will face some important decisions. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, planning ahead allows your loved one to have a say in their future care and feel more comfortable. It’s best for everyone involved if these decisions are made ahead of time and not during a medical emergency.

CareConversations.org provides resources and advice to help you and your loved ones make informed and confident decisions about the care they may need now and in the future. Visit our About page to learn more.