Caring for the HF patient and the ‘carer’
Empowering patients and their loved ones can help improve medical outcomes in the management of chronic diseases like heart failure (HF) in layman’s parlance or cardiomyopathy in medical jargon.
Caring for someone with HF can be both demanding and rewarding. Whether you are a husband, wife, son, daughter or a friend, your goal should be to empower your loved one.
There are tips on how to care for/deal with a loved one who is suffering from HF and, equally important, on how to care for yourself.
1Learn all you can about HF. The more you know, the more helpful you can be to the one you care for and to yourself. But always ask the doctor if your interpretations of all the information you are getting from Google and other sources are correct.
2Give practical and emotional support. Help your loved one keep an eye on symptoms and take medicines on time. Accompany him/her to the doctor. You can also help with errands and chores. Encourage him/her to stay positive and have a “can-do” attitude. People who adapt to their illness and take control of it are happier and have a better quality of life.
3Take care of yourself. HF management can drain your finances, take a toll on your work, or strain or sever relationships. Watch out for “carer stress” and take immediate steps to cope with it.
4It is important that your commitment to your loved one is acknowledged and your family and friends understand the significance of your role.
Caring for someone can have a big impact on your own mental and physical well-being. Some things you may experience and have to address immediately are:
- Anxiety, irritability and depression
- Loss of appetite
- Increasing alcohol intake, or excessive smoking
- Deteriorating physical health
- Lack of concentration
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Forgetfulness or neglecting responsibilities
Give yourself a short “me” time in the day. Check out if there are any “carer” support groups in your area.
If distance separates you from your loved one who is suffering from HF try these tips:
1Have a routine for staying in touch. Find a time of day for regular phone calls or video chats.
2Have a plan in place for problems. Make sure the person you care for knows exactly what to do if unexpected problems arise.
3An open-communication line with his/her doctor, a neighbor, relative or a family friend is a must. Keep their names and contact details at hand.
One of the wisest decisions is seeking professional help, family members’ and friends’ advice or a support group’s assistance at all times. Don’t hesitate to accept offers of help. Talk with the right people.
The Philippine Heart Association has partnered with Novartis Healthcare Philippines in establishing the Heart Failure Alliance. The HF Alliance aims to increase not only public awareness on HF, but also help patients and their caregivers gain a better understanding of this debilitating condition, especially in recognizing its signs and symptoms.
Dr. Raul L. Lapitan, president of the Philippine Heart Association 2016-2017, completed his medical degree at the Far Eastern University-Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Institute of Medicine and finished his Fellowship in Cardiology at Makati Medical Center. The PHA is an organization of cardiovascular specialists and lay members that ensure accessible, affordable and quality cardiovascular education and care for everyone. For more information, visit www.philheart.org.
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