Caregivers can help loved ones living with congestive heart failure (CHF) take steps to manage symptoms and keep the condition from becoming more serious.
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 two or three 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
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:
* Not available with standalone prescription drug plans.