Caring for Someone With Heart Disease
Communicating With the Patient’s Treatment Team
“As a caregiver, communication is most important. I think what is key is to go with the patient to the visit. It’s helpful for both of you to hear, and the caregiver to take notes. Always try to get the patient to do the communicating with the doctor if able,” Stevens says.
Caregivers can organize ahead of time any questions that they may have about the patient’s heart problems. The can also ask for a consultation appointment if there are many questions to have more time with the doctor.
Patients can feel embarrassed to say that don’t understand. In this case, the caregiver can make sure everything is understood, Meyerson says.
Another opportunity to ask questions is in appointments with a nurse practitioner in between visits with a cardiologist. A nurse practitioner will often meet with the patient to fine-tune any heart disease treatment plans, Stevens says.
Living Life and Taking Care of Yourself
People with heart disease should still try to do the things that they used to enjoy, and caregivers can help them. Going out to see family and friends is also part of maintaining overall health, Stevens says.
When taking care of someone with heart disease, it’s essential that the caregiver take breaks to avoid burnout and accept help from others. Often times, caregivers will abandon their own health care needs.
“If you’re fatigued, then you can’t do your best work for someone else,” Meyerson says.
For the Gagnes, it’s been a priority to keep both of them healthy, find support, and give Juanita time on her own.
Juanita says she goes to her checkups to make sure that she’s healthy, turns to her daughter and friends when she feels stressed, and takes water aerobics classes. The couple also meets with friends in a similar situation for support.
“We stay positive, and our belief in God gets us through tough times,” Juanita says.