Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition that affects how the heart pumps blood through the body. Seniors with CHF may experience difficulty breathing or periods of fatigue, which can make it difficult for them to complete routine tasks and participate in activities they once enjoyed. They may require help to remain safe at home and manage their condition properly. That’s where caregivers come in! Home care can help seniors with CHF continue living at home safely and also reduce their risk of hospital admission. Learn more about how seniors with CHF can benefit from home care.
How CHF Affects Daily Living
Heart failure is the leading cause of death in the US. However, the diagnosis of heart failure doesn’t mean that a senior’s heart will stop; it just means that it isn’t performing effectively. Heart failure progresses in stages. CHF refers to a specific stage of heart failure in which fluid has built up in the body, hence “congestive.”
As the heart struggles to meet the body's demand for oxygen, seniors may experience the following symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
Some of these symptoms can make it difficult for seniors to complete everyday tasks. As they experience shortness of breath, they might not be able to walk around their home. Seniors might feel fatigued very easily, making it hard to getting dressed or take a shower. These symptoms also put seniors at a higher risk of falling and becoming seriously injured. Unfortunately, these symptoms will not go away because CHF is a chronic condition, but they can be managed.
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How Home Care Can Help Manage CHF
Caregivers can assist seniors with CHF in many different areas to allow them to be as independent as possible and improve their quality of life. Let's take a look at some of the ways that home care can help seniors with CHF.
Perform Activities of Daily Living
A caregiver can help seniors with CHF to perform activities of daily living, including grooming, toileting, showering, and more. They can also provide transportation, light housekeeping, personal care, and other services to enable a senior with CHF to continue their daily routine. And caregivers can ensure that these activities are completed safely. This assistance can help seniors maintain their independence and their dignity.
Manage Treatment Plan
A senior with CHF may have a treatment plan that includes medication, monitoring, lifestyle changes, or even surgery. It could be difficult for them to implement this treatment plan on their own, but caregivers can help.
- Medication reminders. Caregivers can provide medication reminders so seniors take their medications on time and in the proper dosage.
- Monitoring. Seniors with CHF may need to track their blood pressure, pulse, or weight. A caregiver can help remind a senior to check their vital signs and record them as needed. Caregivers can also monitor a senior’s symptoms and help them determine when they get worse. As needed, they can reach out to healthcare professionals about a change in a senior's condition.
- Lifestyle changes. Some seniors may need to make major lifestyle changes to improve their overall health, like exercising more or quitting smoking. Caregivers can help motivate seniors to make these changes and stick with them.
Prepare Healthy Meals
CHF can cause seniors to retain water and swell. Therefore, seniors with CHF should avoid sodium to help them manage their swelling. Caregivers can help prepare low-sodium meals and snacks to ensure that seniors don’t take in excess salt.
Foods to avoid include:
- Fried foods
- Canned soup
- Fast food
- Salted butter
Learn more about the best foods for seniors with CHF in our blog post: Diet for Seniors with CHF.
Seniors with CFH may have a weakened immune system, which can put them at a higher risk of developing infection. These infections could pose major health threats and even exacerbate CHF symptoms.
Caregivers can help seniors avoid infections and care for seniors if they do develop an infection by following standard and transmission-based precautions. We offer an Infection Control Specialty Program to help address the risk of infections in seniors. This care can help seniors avoid or manage infection and reduce the risk of hospitalization.
Encourage Physical Activity
It might seem counterintuitive for a seniors with CHF to be active; however, these seniors should strive to keep moving. Fatigue and shortness of breath are easy excuses to stop moving, but physical activity can help strengthen heart muscles, which is beneficial for individuals of all ages. It can help improve mood, boost energy levels, and reduce stress. Plus, weight loss can help manage weight, lower cholesterol, and improve circulation — all of which help reduce strain on the heart. A caregiver can help seniors carefully and safely get moving each day. This can help seniors improve their balance and strength.
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Seniors with CHF may have a number of different doctors, from their primary care doctor to an occupational therapist. Caring Senior Service’s home care emphasizes care coordination. Our caregivers can help inform other professional care providers of a patient’s status as necessary. We also created a Tendio Family Portal, which contains a senior's medication lists, care plan, and other information that can be shared with healthcare professionals as needed.
Often, caregivers are the eyes and ears for other healthcare providers because we spend the most time with a client. We can help healthcare providers be proactive in their care approach and be alerted to early warning signs of health complications. Our caregivers can also attend doctor’s appointments to ensure that we stay in the loop on a client’s care.
Remain at Home
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of home care is that seniors can remain at home. Hospital admissions can take a toll on a senior — financially, physically, and emotionally. They may feel discouraged and even depressed. Most seniors fear having to leave their home and lose their independence. Home is comfortable and familiar. It is filled with memories of family. Home care allows seniors to remain in their home as they age. Aging in place can help them maintain a better state of mind and remain confident in their abilities.
At Caring Senior Service, it is our goal to ensure that all seniors remain healthy, happy, and at home. We understand the difficulties that come with aging and know the challenges that come as a result of CHF. Our caregivers are specially trained to assist seniors with CHF. We have developed a specialized CHF care program that includes caregiver training and tailored care plans. Reach out to your local Caring Senior Service to learn more.