Caring For A Loved One With Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood to the organs of the body. If the kidneys don’t get sufficient blood, they are unable to filter out all the fluids and fluid can build up in the lungs, liver legs, and eyes. This “congestion” can cause swelling and fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 5 million people suffer from CHF in the US.

While CHF does not have a cure, there are medications to help control the symptoms. If you are caring for someone with CHF, read on for some important suggestions.


Once diagnosed, CHF may be stable and only require periodic checkups for months or years. However, in later stages of the disease, the patient may require hospitalization. Often, the patient will require hospitalization and will improve after treatment. Treatment may include medications to manage fluid build-up such as diuretics. Other medications are used to manage other disease symptoms.

The disease progression for CHF varies considerably from person to person. Typically, the focus for treating individuals with more advanced CHF is to provide comfort.

Taking Care at Home

The caregiver needs to assess the patient and communicate health changes to the medical personnel. Many CHF patients feel anxious, and will need support and reassurance. Others may have confusion due to lower oxygen levels or changes in medications. Limiting excess noise and keeping familiar objects within sight can be helpful to help the patient. Some patients feel anger, guilt or depression. These feelings are best dealt with directly by the patient’s medical team. Fluid can collect in the lungs of CHF patients making it more difficult for the lungs to expand. Breathing techniques, sitting up rather than lying down, and using oxygen can help the patient. Make sure to alert the medical team quickly so that they can prescribe the patient with the proper medications to help alleviate this problem.

Caring for a loved one with CHF typically includes helping with day-to-day activities such as bathing, dressing, moving around the home, preparing meals, washing laundry, driving to doctor appointments, and doing errands.

CHF Care Giving Tips

Taking care of someone with CHF can be draining. As a caregiver to a CHF patient, it’s important to employ the following tips:

  • Keep a daily log of the CHF patient’s activities, medications, and symptoms and be prepared to give updates to medical personnel.
  • Contact the doctor if the patient experiences any one of the following: gain of 3 pounds or more in 3-7 days, swelling in hands, ankles or feet, difficulty breathing, coughing at night, negligible urination, confusion, dizziness, or faintness, nausea or vomiting, increased fatigue, muscle cramps or sudden distress.
  • Form a team of family members, friends, and medical providers to proactively communicate any health developments and provide the right care.
  • Find some respite and take proper care of yourself, the caregiver. The caregiver must schedule some personal time every day to exercise, meditate, listen to music, or just relax with a good book or a movie.
    • Many caregivers use affordable adult daycare programs or in-home help. Adult daycare provides a community environment with art, music, exercise, games, and/or therapy. In-home nursing aides can help with meal preparation, bathing, grooming, medical management, checking vital signs, toileting, as well as laundry, household cleaning, and transportation.

Do you have questions about caring for a loved one with CHF? Expicare can help. Contact us at 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit For further information on CHF, visit the American Heart Association.

Expicare Nursing, Inc.

Owned and managed by highly qualified Registered Nurses, Expicare is a recognized leader of home health care in South Florida. For over three decades, Expicare has provided unparalleled home health care to thousands of patients throughout Palm Beach County. From post-surgery assistance to compassionate care for patients and families struggling with Alzheimer’s, Expicare provides highly skilled nurses and nursing assistants to care for your parents or loved ones. For more information, contact 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit