AFib Caretaker Tips
Any new medical diagnosis brings with it a range of feelings. Beginning with shock and ending with acceptance, the feelings can include denial, anger, worry, depression and even relief. Confusion is a feeling that cannot be overlooked.
When a new problem presents, it can be trying to know what course of action is best. Should you dramatically overhaul your life or continue down the same path?
In an interesting way, the response following a new diagnosis is not reserved for the patient. As a loved one of someone experiencing a medical condition, you likely find yourself in a caretaker role, and caretakers often experience the same group of feelings as the patient. If your loved one was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), your shock and confusion may surround the diagnosis itself. Your worry is that you cannot find the best interventions to help the special person in your life. You become angry when they do not follow recommendations or miss appointments.
Being a caretaker does require a bit of work, but it is a wonderful gift to someone. Your loved one benefits tremendously. When you selflessly give your time and energy for the well-being of someone else, good things happen. You just want to be sure that your efforts are not wasted. Here’s how to go about helping someone with atrial fibrillation.
Confronting something new in your life always requires a solid foundation of education. The information you receive must be from trusted, reputable sources. Avoid information that sounds too simple or too convenient as you look deeper for the truth.
Along the way, be sure to test the data you collect against the opinion of professionals that specialize in AFib and related disorders. Consider absorbing all you can about these issues:
What is AFib? You may have never heard of it before it began impacting your life. The more you learn about AFib, the better you will be at caring for your loved one.
Generally, AFib is an irregular heart rhythm. In many cases, the upper chambers of the heart beat too quickly. This unusual pace creates issues with poor blood flow and supply throughout the body.
AFib symptoms can be sporadic, consistent or permanent depending on the person and the situation. Symptoms include racing or uncomfortable heart rate, feeling fatigued or weak, being lightheaded or dizzy, chest pain and shortness of breath. AFib is becoming increasingly understood and common with three million cases expected this year.
The more you learn about AFib, you more you realize that it is linked to other medical issues, including stroke. In fact, many people only receive their AFib diagnosis following a stroke. Strokes are linked to AFib because the irregularity of the heart allows blood clots to form in the heart and then travel to brain.
There are many symptoms associated with stroke, so remember “FAST” to help you assess your loved one. “FAST” stands for face, arms, speech and time.
- Face –Ask your loved one to smile. If there is a droop on one side, it could be a stroke.
- Arms – Ask your loved one to raise their arms. It could be a stroke if one limb drifts down towards the floor.
- Speech – Poor speech that is slurred or missing words could also indicate a stroke.
- Time – Time is important because strokes are serious and require immediate medical attention to limit the lasting effects.
Over time, AFib can weaken the heart to a point that it can no longer pump blood as efficiently as the body requires. Without the needed oxygen getting to all areas, fluid begins to accumulate in the lungs, which creates a long list of issues.
Symptoms of heart failure include weakness, fatigue, weight gain, swelling and coughing. As a caretaker, work to monitor and evaluate your loved one for these symptoms as they may be hard to notice at first or are unnoticed by your loved one. Report all findings to their medical professionals.
It is almost certain that your loved one will need medications to manage their AFib. Blood thinners are needed to prevent clots from forming and lower the risk of stroke. Another group of medications are used to regulate the heart rhythm. Educate yourself along with your loved one regarding the uses and effects of each medication prescribed. Quiz your loved one at times to test their knowledge. Getting confused about medications is easy and happens too frequently. Patients on blood thinners typically need lab tests to check the usefulness of the medication. Offer to chauffer your loved one to the local lab center to be sure the testing is completed.