Caring for your loved one with congestive heart failure
Heart failure often develops after other conditions have damaged or weakened your heart. However, the heart doesn’t need to be cut to cause heart failure. It can also occur if the heart becomes too stiff. Love, Patience, and compassion are the first thing we must remember to care for our loved ones with it. As a family caregiver, you can help your loved one live a full, happy, and productive life with knowledge and a few tips.
What is Congestive Heart Failure
It is a condition where the heart can no longer pump enough blood throughout the body. When this occurs, the heart cannot provide adequate blood flow to other organs, such as the brain, liver, and kidneys. The abbreviation for congestive heart failure is CHF. It may be due to the right or left ventricle loss or both. The heart becomes inefficient at pumping when extra fluid builds up inside it. When this occurs, congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs. As a result, the body does not receive enough oxygen. Among the many types of congestive heart failure, systolic and diastolic failure are the most common.
It is essential to realize aging brings along several ailments. Another critical point is that it commonly affects about 80% of seniors. The most compelling evidence is that it is a progressive disease. That worsens over time if left untreated. As a result, it is a silent killer. Under those circumstances, it is a much more complicated problem for our aging loved ones. Henceforth, we could see many cases amongst the aging population. For this reason, in the US alone, there are about 900,000 hospital admissions yearly due to heart failure in seniors. With this in mind, various conditions give rise to it.
Congestive heart failure culprits
- High blood cholesterol
- Overweight or obesity
- Coronary artery disease
- Infections concerning the heart, such as endocarditis or myocarditis
- Drug abuse
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Thyroid disorders
- Certain Medications
In addition, disease trends have shown that congestive heart failure affects more older women than men. Not to mention due to high hypertension rates in the former group. Therefore, understanding and recognizing the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure are equally important. In this case, it becomes essential for the timely initiation of treatment.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure
- Unjustified fatigue
- I am experiencing breathlessness or shortness of breath during exercise or at rest.
- Your loved one may experience disturbed sleep during the night due to sudden shortness of breath.
- Sudden weight gain within 1 – 2 days
- Increased urination, particularly during the night hours
- Bloating and a decrease in appetite
- Abdominal pain is accompanied by nausea, which is not caused due to gastrointestinal disease, but due to fluid retention in the liver.
- Symptoms of cold and flu last more than a week
Caregivers should carefully take note of the above symptoms, as any of these can ring a warning bell that something is seriously wrong with your loved one. Consult a doctor immediately if your loved one is feeling uncomfortable or experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above. Timely initiation of treatment ensures a better prognosis and can stop the onset of several secondary complications. Most people have stable congestive heart failure but can be resistant when a change occurs in their bodies. For example, if you loved one with congestive heart failure may be doing well but then develops pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, or a heart attack. Your loved one’s heart may not be able to react to the body’s changing environment and does not have the ability or reserve to meet the body’s energy needs. Also, acute decompensation may occur if the patient drinks excess fluid, has a large intake of salt that can retain water in the body, or forgets to take their routine medication.
Life expectancy and congestive heart failure – what can you expect
The life expectancy rates of your loved ones with congestive heart failure will majorly depend on the stage of the disease. In cases where the disease has been diagnosed in the preliminary stages, 90% of the patients have a life expectancy rate of 5 years. However, your loved one with advanced heart failure has a life expectancy rate of just one year.
Managing caregiving with your loved one
Congestive heart failure is a debilitating condition, putting your loved one at high risk for several complications. Caring for our loved ones with congestive heart failure becomes essential to make their life calm and comfortable to slow down the progression of the disease. Managing caregiving for a loved one can be a challenge. It’s essential to take care of yourself, too! Here are some tips for making the most of caregiving:
- Establish a support network: Reach out to family, friends, and other resources for help with caregiving.
- Create a schedule: Make a plan for managing caregiving responsibilities and plan to ensure they are completed.
- Take breaks: Make sure to take time for yourself during caregiving hours. For example, go for a walk, have a cup of tea, or do something else that helps you relax.
- Stay connected: Find new ways to relate to your loved one even when you can’t be together.
- Be open to change: Caregiving can be unpredictable, so be open to making changes as needed.
- Take care of your health: Make sure to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to be your best caregiver.
The following tips would help caregivers better care for their loved ones.
The primary goal of caregivers is to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations. These tips can help caregivers and families prevent patients from going to the ER with heart failure. Although CHF may shorten lives, a thorough care plan implemented by clinicians, caregivers, and patients can improve the quality of life.
- Give them plenty of rest.
- Keep them stress-free. Take them for regular walks in the garden and help them with meditation techniques to keep stress at bay.
- Help them stay away from caffeine-related drinks
- Stop smoking immediately
- Abstinence from alcohol also becomes a necessity
- Fluid restriction is a must, as fluid retention leads to weight gain. Follow the doctor’s advice on regulating their fluid intake.
- Hypertension has been ranked as the primary cause of congestive heart failure. Therefore, caregivers need to give them foods with less sodium content.
- Give them medications on time and take them for regular visits to the doctor.
- Give them flu shot once every year.
Dietary requirements for congestive heart failure
Regardless of your heart failure type, your doctor will recommend a similar diet. This will generally involve reducing sodium and fluid intake and following a healthy diet. Here are some tips to help you now.
- #1 Limit salt as much as possible.
- Have plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand.
- Choose fresh foods, including lean meats, fish, poultry, dry and fresh legumes, eggs, milk, yogurt, plain rice, pasta, and oatmeal.
- Avoid can, processed, or packaged foods.
- Choose lower-sodium snacks
- Replace the salt shaker with a sodium-free blend of herbs.
- Omit salt from recipes. Use fresh herbs, onion, garlic, citrus, fruit juices, and vinegar to add flavor.
- Check all condiments for salt content.
- While dining out, remind the waiter of your salt intake and ask for salt not to be put into the meal. Most restaurants have salt-restricted menus.
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All these tips should help caregivers take better care of their seniors with congestive heart failure. I have cared for hundreds of people with congestive heart failure, and I know this post will help you do the same. Caregivers must understand the care needed to manage their loved one with heart failure. They must understand all aspects of its effect on their loved ones. As a result, they can guide them toward the right health choices and intervene when complications arise. In addition to affecting the cardiovascular system, heart failure affects the entire patient. In addition to these factors, many others are involved in the disease process. For example, lifestyle changes must be made and maintained. Patients in minority communities may need more frequent contact to manage their care, and healthcare providers should be aware of psychosocial effects like depression. Once these factors are fully understood, this disease can be improved and managed.