Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic, progressive and frightening disease. Living with advanced heart disease can be both physically and emotionally challenging. As the disease progresses, symptoms worsen, impacting quality of life. Hospice often becomes a choice when a loved one with CHF is seeking relief from frequent emergency room (ER) visits or is physically or emotionally tired of challenging treatments that have no positive impact on life expectancy or quality of life. It is important to realize that hospice is not just for the last days of life. In fact, hospice works best when it is chosen early, allowing you and your loved one to benefit from the extra layer of care and expert symptom support hospice brings. In this blog we share insights on when it may be time to consider hospice care when living with CHF.
Signs of Worsening Heart Failure
Though symptoms can be controlled, there is no cure for CHF. In time, the disease will progress to the end stage. Symptoms can be distressing and overwhelming for family caregivers as they try to navigate this frightening disease. As heart disease progresses, additional care may be needed. It is important to understand changing symptoms to ensure needed and timely support. The symptoms of end-stage CHF may include:
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) during activity and rest
- Frequent trips to the ER
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Recurring infections
- Swelling in the legs or ankles
- Decreased appetite
- Confusion or impaired thinking
Heart disease patients require more specialized care as symptoms begin to increase. Speak to your physician about any changes in symptoms, and discuss when it may be time to consider the extra layer of expert care and support that hospice brings. Usually hospice becomes an option when your loved one’s physician determines that their life expectancy is six months or less should the disease follow its natural course. When it is time to talk about considering hospice, it is important to realize that accepting hospice care is not giving up. Hospice improves quality of life and enriches the lives of both the patient and their caregiver. Hospice enables those with CHF to live as fully as possible for the time that remains.
How Hospice Can Help Those Living with End-Stage CHF
In the final stages of heart disease it will become more difficult to perform routine daily activities like bathing, grooming or even walking through your house. Distressing and uncontrolled symptoms may lead to frequent ER visits and hospitalizations. Many people do not realize how greatly hospice eases the burden of caregiving and improves quality of life for those living with CHF. Our expertise helps control symptoms, reduces hospitalizations, and eases the burdens, fear and stress of CHF.
Our blog Eight Ways Hospice Improves Quality of Life for CHF offers insight into the benefits hospice provides, sharing key ways hospice helps:
- Hospice care helps avoid episodes of crisis by providing optimal symptom prevention (as opposed to crisis management).
- The expert level of care hospice provides helps prevent hospital stays and ER visits.
- As experts in CHF, hospice staff are able to help reduce and manage the symptoms of CHF, including shortness of breath, fluid retention, fatigue and sleep disorders.
- Patients and family caregivers have access to a registered nurse 24/7.
- With hospice care, patients receive the full support of Roze Room’s interdisciplinary team, including our medical director, nurses, certified home health aides (CHHAs), social workers and chaplains/spiritual counselors.
- Patients and family caregivers feel more empowered through the education hospice provides about coping with distressing symptoms of CHF, such as stress, confusion and anxiety.
- Family caregivers gain an extra layer of support from Roze Room’s CHHAs, who assist with bathing, grooming, changing bedding, dressing and feeding.
- Roze Room chaplains provide spiritual support, comfort and guidance.
If you are a family caregiver and have questions about the management of CHF and how to improve peace of mind and quality of life, Roze Room can help. Learn more about how we can offer an extra layer of support to those living with advanced CHF here.