How can I provide emotional support?
Being a full-time caregiver may be an unfamiliar
role for you and one in which you never imagined yourself. There are several
things you can do to help provide the emotional support that your loved one
needs at this time:
- Offer encouragement.
Adopting lifestyle changes recommended for people with heart disease can be
difficult. If the person you are caring for cannot comply with a strict diet or
exercise regimen, encourage him or her to start slowly and build up to the
ultimate goal over time. You may also offer to alter your own diet or lifestyle
to encourage healthy behaviors. This is particularly true for smoking, since it
can be nearly impossible for an individual to quit smoking if there is another
smoker in the home.
- Help. Offer help, but
encourage your loved one to remain active. Even though people who have just
been hospitalized have physical limitations, they should still try to stay
active as long as this does not cause undue strain. Getting moderate exercise
and completing tasks around the house can often be done safely and will help
the person you are looking after feel better both physically and mentally. If
you are concerned about what level of activity is appropriate, speak with the
doctor who has been the most involved in your loved one's
- Ask if you can participate in doctor visits. Offer support by sitting in on doctor visits and taking notes. Your
loved one will be better able to remember important instructions if you help
keep a record.
- Be realistic about the future. Your loved one may be facing a serious situation. You can help prepare
for the future by helping review insurance policies, wills, and
- Respect the wishes of the person you are caring for. Discuss living wills and other advance directives, and be
clear about wishes concerning artificial life support in case you should be
called upon later to make this important decision.
Why is it important to also look after myself?
Looking after a loved one who has CAD can be
mentally and physically challenging, especially in the end stages of the
disease. There are steps you can take to help make the situation more
manageable for yourself. Remember that you will be an effective and loving
caregiver only if your own physical health and mental outlook remain
- Enlist help when you need it. If possible,
involve other family members or enlist the help of a visiting nurse. You may
also hire a food delivery or housekeeping service to help with cooking and
- Take time for yourself. Offering care can be stressful
and time-consuming. To make sure that you do not burn out and that you can
continue to provide love and care, it is very important to make time for
activities you enjoy.
- Seek emotional support if you need to.
Caring for a loved one who is recovering from a major procedure and who has a
chronic disease can be emotionally difficult.
If you are having difficulty coping with your feelings, you
should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking advice and counseling from
appropriate sources, such as other family members, trained mental health
professionals, or religious advisers. Look for peer groups. You may be able to
find support groups for people with caregiving responsibilities. Talking to
other people who are in similar situations may be a valuable way for you to
share your concerns and also to gather information.