Each year, 60,000 Canadians are diagnosed with heart failure, as reported by the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. One in two Canadians have been touched by heart failure and the support offered by family members, friends, and other caregivers can often make a difference in the quality of life for heart failure patients.
Carers or family caregivers, take on an unpaid support role for those living with chronic heart failure. In Canada, there are 750,200 carers providing social and emotional support; and sometimes physical care for loved ones with a cardiovascular disease, as reported by Carers Canada.
Burden, stress, and depression are associated with the caregiving role in the heart failure population. However, no two cases of heart failure are the same and each patient requires a different level of support depending on their unique situation.
We recently spoke with three Canadian caregivers who kindly shared their perspectives of heart failure with us (link to first post). Before the interviews ended, we asked each individual what they would say to someone whose loved one was recently diagnosed with heart failure.
Here’s the advice they have to share with you.
Erin Cherban: “It is critical that you attend appointments with your partner as your emotional states will make it difficult to comprehend what you are being told – take notes at appointments. If you feel frustrated with the information you receive, the appointments you are asked to attend, or any aspect of the healthcare journey, make sure you reach out, ask questions, and get clarification.”
“You will need to be your partner’s advocate. Also, if any of medical staff suggest that you look at specific books or use services, read or use them, they will help.”
Lyndall McCormack: “A support system is important, and friends and family are wonderful for that, but I was blessed to have another caregiver (the wife of another recent LVAD recipient) who met me for coffee while our spouses were having tests or appointments.”
“It was a freeing experience to be able to speak candidly with someone in the same position, going through the same things. We could say anything to each other, express how frustrated we were with our husbands or the doctors, and totally understand where we each were coming from.”
Mrs. Bloggs*: “It [heart failure] is not a death sentence. Read, get informed, learn, but don’t believe Dr. Google or everything that is on the internet. Get involved in online support groups for people living with heart failure. Don’t be afraid of asking questions and questioning answers.
“Get organized with a note-taking system as there will be a lot to learn. This is a roller-coaster ride. Enjoy and rejoice during the coasting times and pull up the big girl pants for the other times.”
The name *Mrs. Bloggs was used solely for the purpose of this article.
IF YOU’RE LIVING WITH HEART FAILURE, OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS THIS CHRONIC ILLNESS, CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR CLOSED FACEBOOK SUPPORT GROUP AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION