Caring for a loved one

Caring for a loved one with Heart Failure

Caring for a loved one with Heart Failure

Looking after someone you love who has serious health problems is demanding and often stressful, especially if they’re living with a chronic (long-term) disease.

Who are the caregivers?

heart failure caregivers
  • Based on one estimate, family members provide 90% of the care for patients getting care for chronic illness in the United States

  • More than one-third of family caregivers care for a parent—averaging 20 hours a week

But whatever your relationship, if you’re reading this, you can help your loved one manage better and live better with Heart Failure.

heart failure caregivers

How can Keep It Pumping help you as a caregiver?

how can keep it pumping
how can keep it pumping

How can Keep It Pumping help you as a caregiver?

You’ll find helpful information about Heart Failure throughout this website, from the facts about Heart Failure to recommended changes in diet and activity. If you’re caring for someone with Heart Failure, this section is just for you.

You can make the difference

First, you need to accept your new role of caregiver. It’s quite a job to take on, and a long-term commitment. Seeing yourself in this new light will allow you to plan ahead and reach out for help—and control the stress and emotion that might otherwise get in the way.

One report found patients with a spouse were more likely to take their medicines as prescribed and take them on time. So never doubt that you can make a difference.

Watch for the symptoms of Heart Failure

You know your loved one. Do you know what to look out for?

Find out

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What to do for your loved one

Loved One

First things first: learn what to look out for

The first challenge after Heart Failure is diagnosed is to familiarize yourself with common Heart Failure symptoms. Review these symptoms. If you suspect a worsening of Heart Failure, insist on going to the doctor. Heart Failure can’t be cured, but it can be treated, and symptoms can improve. A patient with Heart Failure needs to be under a doctor's care.

Find out about a different kind of Heart Failure medicine

Discuss this and other treatment options with the doctor.

Learn more

Schedule follow-up appointments

It’s important that your loved one sees their doctor at their regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. Help them keep track of all their appointments and accompany them if you can.

At the doctor’s office, make all your points and ask all your questions

Don’t rely on your loved one to cover everything in the doctor’s office. They may be stressed out or simply forget. Write down ahead of time the points you want to make and the questions you need to ask. Here’s a guide to help remind you what to ask.

Help your loved one with prescribed life changes

Your loved one may already need your support with everyday activities. On top of that, a Heart Failure diagnosis generally calls for life changes to help manage the condition, including: taking medicines, changing diet, and following an activity plan—all exactly as the doctor recommends.

Watch for any changes in symptoms or mood

Keep a close watch on the signs and symptoms. You can’t rely on your loved one to tell you when they’re feeling worse—they may hesitate to trouble you. And you can’t risk a wait-and-see approach. If you notice any new Heart Failure symptoms, or existing symptoms grow worse, contact the doctor right away.

At the same time, don’t overlook the stress, anxiety, and depression that may go with Heart Failure. People with Heart Failure may have an emotional reaction. You’ll want to be there for your loved one. And seek help if you see them wrestling with negative feelings.

What if your loved one has spent time in the hospital with HF?

When a patient is discharged after being in the hospital with Heart Failure, your role as caregiver is especially important. There’s research to show that having the support of a circle of family and friends can help people with Heart Failure stay out of the hospital longer and help them keep taking their medicine as prescribed.

Caring at a distance. What if you’re not close by?

Many caregivers live in the same house, or down the street. But what if you don’t? It may put a different kind of strain on you. You may not be able to look in every day—let alone several times a day. But there’s still plenty you can do.

Coordinate information and resources

Family and friends will all want to know about Heart Failure—as well as you and the patient. Take charge of putting together the information and resources that can answer everyone’s questions and concerns.

Assemble and rally your loved one’s care team

Build a reliable care team for your loved one with Heart Failure: you, family, friends, and paid care staff. Assign responsibilities based on individuals’ experience, skills, and location. You may need to find health care professionals or support groups.

Take our poll

Here's how others responded.

About how many hours a week do you spend on your caregiving commitments?





More than 40


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