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KymmiElaine, November 27,  2018  4:11pm EST

I don't know how to help him...

My dad had heart surgery 13 years ago and about 12 years ago my mom died of cancer. I was just 18 years old. I am now 29, about to be 30 in a few days, and I am my dad's primary caregiver. We were told a few years ago he has Congestive Heart Failure. I was too scared to ask questions because my mom's death was so traumatic for me and I didn't want to hear if my dad was dying. But I found the American Heart Association and I feel like there is a good chance of him having a good quality of life. The problem is my dad doesn't want to do anything. He won't cook for himself. He'll make small things like sandwhiches but won't actually cook. His legs have been swollen for 2 years. Inititally, he didn't want to go on medications because he was a bus driver and he couldn't leave the bus unattended even to use the bathroom so he was afraid of having an accident. But now he's retired and I literally had to call and make an appointment for him because he wouldn't do it for himself. I know he's scared. I can't imagine being in his position. But I am terrified. I'm about to be 30 and I'm constantly aware that I could be without both of my parents. I've tried talking to him but I think he's so scared he just doesn't want to do things for himself. I feel like it's been a lot for me to carry. I'm going with him to his appointment next week but I honestly just want to cry. I'm scared of what they'll tell him too. I'm the youngest of six kids and it's all fallen on me. I constantly ask for help but rarely get it. I just don't know how to help him and myself. Any advice?

5 Replies
  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, November 27,  2018  4:55pm EST

    I am so sorry that you are having to experience this, I know it must be very hard. Caring for your parent is the most challenging of all- I think. There is so much emotion tied to the experience.  We have caregiver and heart failure resources that might help you. There are options that might be able to help you both. Please know that we are thinking of you. Best Katie 

  • AmbassadorB
    AmbassadorB, November 27,  2018  5:48pm EST


    Hi Caregiver!  You have a difficult assignment, but after reading your note, it sounds like you're doing  an excellent job!   Several years ago, you found out that your Dad had Congestive Heart Failure.  You did say -" - - several years ago" ?  As the primary care giver, with your Dad still with you, the result speaks for itself!   Clearly you have been doing the right things and about to go with him to a Doctor's appointment, gives you an excellent opportunity to get a professional review and plan for your Dad.  What is the plan?   There have been alot of recent medical advances re treating the human heart and you should be able to relate Dad's condition and situation to what is being done to improve his quality of life.   Go to the AHA website and review what is posted about Congestive Heart Failure.  Familiarize yourself with what has been prescribed and ask the Doctor what his thinking is regarding a continuing program.  Ask what might be added - re exercise, diet, patient interests, etc., during the next few months that would benefit Dad.  Is he getting regular and helpful support from the Medical Community?   Ask the Doctor if Dad should be doing something new, or other activity, to improve his long term status!   When you leave the appointment, you should have a much clearer perspective of what the future looks like for both your dad and yourself.   If you find that you have additional questions (What else might we do to benefit Dad?) don't hesitate to go back and ask them!    

    You're helping him now!   Keep up the good work!  Your positive attitude, deep loving interest and commitment is the strongest medicine on Dad's list!

    Ambassador B

  • JamesPL
    JamesPL, November 27,  2018  8:13pm EST

    Hi Kymmielaine,

    I agree with Ambassador B about the care and support you are giving your dad. This is very important for his mental and physical health. I'm sure he appreciates it more than you realize. Have you explored seeking out therapy for him? If he's feeling any kind of depression, this could be a big help for him. When you visit his doctor, I would ask about it. People that have had events related to the heart often experience depression. I would also ask his doctor about what kind of exercise could be recommended or if some other kind of physical therapy could be recommended. This would help his heart and help getting him out of the house which would be excellent for his mental health. Whatever you could do to motivate him will help him immensely. 

    I wish you well in your continuing caregiving efforts and your dad's recovery.


  • Spooky75
    Spooky75, November 29,  2018  3:44pm EST

    Hi KymmiElaine,

    I agree with Jim. Getting your dad into a therapy program would be very beneficial. My dad is a cancer survivor and had bypass surgery several years ago, and I know what helped him was having people to talk to. Keeping a journal also helped him.

    But I'd also recommend that you, too, seek out therapy. Being the primary caregiver is an important, but definitely not easy, role. Talking to a therapist can help you navigate all of the things you're feeling.

    Please know that we're all here for you!!


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