When you care for someone with heart failure, you may feel both physically and emotionally stressed. There are many resources that could help.
Tips for caregivers (from the National Family Caregivers Association)
- Choose to take charge of your life, and don't let your loved one's illness or disability always take center stage.
- Remember to be good to yourself. Love, honor and value yourself. You're doing a very hard job and you deserve some quality time just for you.
- Watch for signs of depression and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it.
- When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things they can do.
- Educate yourself about your loved one's condition. Information is empowering.
- There's a difference between caring and doing. Be open to new technologies and ideas that promote your loved one's independence and help you do your job easier.
- Trust your instincts. Most of the time they'll lead you in the right direction.
- Grieve for your losses then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
- Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and as a citizen.
- Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing that you are not alone.
What are the signs of caregiver burnout? (from the American Heart Association)
As a caregiver, you’re under a lot of stress. It’s common for caregivers like you to let your own health suffer. So, watch out for:
- Neglect of rough treatment of the person for whom you are caring
- Appetite chages--either eating too much or too little
- Excessive use of alcohol, medications or sleeping pills
- Losing control physically of emotionally
- Difficulty concentrating, missing appointments
- Trouble falling or staing asleep
- Depression, hopelessness, feelings of alienation, lack of energy to do new things
If you recognize the warning signs of burnout in yourself, remember that it will only get worse if you leave it alone. You need to take steps to get your life back into balance.
For more information, take a look at this handout from the American Heart Association.
How do I find other people I can talk to who are going through the same thing?
This is a listing of caregiver support groups in Southwestern PA:
Are you caring for your spouse? You may find this video helpful as well. It is an introduction to an organization called Well Spouse Association. You can find more information at http://www.wellspouse.org/.
Where do I start to find help?
A good place to start is the American Heart Association.