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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Coronary Artery Disease: Helping a Loved One
If you have a family member or other loved
one who has
coronary artery disease (CAD) or has just returned
home from the hospital due to a complication of CAD, you may want to know what
you can do to help. Your loved one may be able to do fewer normal
activities and may also need a great deal of encouragement and emotional
support. This article provides some guidelines on helping with daily activities
and offering emotional support to loved ones who are recovering from
Your loved one may need
special assistance if CAD leads to
heart failure. Heart failure typically results in a
weakened heart, one that cannot pump blood in sufficient quantities to the
body. Often, people with end-stage heart failure are not able to perform all
the tasks and activities that they did in the past with ease. And they may rely
on you for both emotional support and physical assistance. As you read this
article, you may want to think about how you may help a loved one in either
situation: recovery from a CAD-related hospital stay or the later stages of
People who have CAD may have a lot of
physical limitations because of chest pain or shortness of breath with exertion
or because of severe weakness. These people may rely on others for
help with relatively simple but important tasks. If your loved one experiences
trouble with daily activities, you and your family may choose to assume a large
role in managing his or her day-to-day life. Some of the ways in which you can
help are listed below.
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:
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
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.
Some families cannot assume care for a loved one who has severe heart disease
without enlisting outside help. Economic stresses may be overwhelming and, if
all the family members are at work, adequate at-home supervision and care for
the patient may not be possible. Also, some people require more care than their family can be reasonably expected to provide. In
these cases, you may consider placing your loved one in a long-term care
The available long-term care options depend on an
individual's level of independence and need for nursing supervision. Some
people will still be able to do basic activities on their own but may need
assistance preparing meals and sorting medicines. Such individuals may be
well cared for in a supervised living facility where food is provided and staff
is available to assist them, if needed, but where routine nursing care is not
Other people with severe heart disease may have
difficulty performing basic activities and may be better served in a nursing
home where the staff can assist them with eating and bathing. In these more
closely monitored settings, nurses can track your loved one's symptoms and ensure that he or she takes medicines appropriately.
It is important for people in these facilities to feel that they are
still a part of their family. Frequent visits by family members or day trips to
the family home help a lot to improve the loved ones' emotional health.
you may think that paying for this care will be prohibitively expensive.
But there may be options available to make the cost more manageable.
April 6, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
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