When the diagnosis is congestive heart failure

A doctor shows a patient information about congestive heart failure on a computer tablet

Caregivers can help loved ones living with congestive heart failure (CHF) take steps to manage symptoms and keep the condition from becoming more serious.

Tips and resources to manage congestive heart failure

People with CHF may not be able to do the things they’ve normally done—often a tough adjustment. As a caregiver, you also may have questions about how CHF will affect your loved one: What do I do? How can I help? What changes do we need to make?

Here are some lifestyle practices that may make a big difference in the quality of life of the person you care for. Be sure to discuss them with your loved one’s doctor(s).

  • Watch weight. Help your loved one weigh himself or herself daily, preferably in the morning, and keep a record. A sudden increase of more than 2 or 3 pounds may mean fluid buildup and a call to the doctor.
  • Lower sodium. Limit sodium (salt) intake to less than 1,500 mg a day. If you’re preparing meals, don’t add salt when cooking.
  • Exercise. Exercise, with the doctor’s OK, is important for patients with stable conditions. Staying fit can help your loved one’s condition from getting worse.1
  • Get bed rest. If your loved one has severe heart failure and needs bed rest, elevate his or her upper body to reduce congestion in the lungs. Resting in an armchair may be better than lying in bed. Relaxing and contracting leg muscles help prevent clots.
  • Manage medicines. An important part of helping someone manage CHF is managing multiple medicines (see next page for tips).

Humana offers resources for Medicare members with chronic conditions and their caregivers:

  • Humana Points of Care: online support and education for Medicare members and caregivers to help improve health and quality of life.
  • Humana Health Planning and Support Line*: support for Humana Medicare Advantage plan members with certain chronic conditions. Call 1-800-622-9529 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST, to see if your loved one is eligible.
  • Humana Member Assistance Program*: help with life’s emotional challenges for Humana Medicare Advantage plan members. Call 1-800-767-6171 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST.

* Not available with stand-alone prescription drug plans.

Sources:

  1. “Aging & Health A to Z,” Health in Aging, last accessed January 28, 2019, http://www.healthinaging.org/aging-and-health-a-to-z/topic:heart-failure/info:lifestyle-and-management/ , opens new window.