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Old 10-05-2010, 03:41 PM   #1
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Question Congestive Heart Failure

My beloved 90 year old Dad has congestive heart failure and atrial fibulation. He recently got out of the hospital after a 4 night stay - he was also in there in August, January, and several other times over the years. He goes in because he has breathing difficulties - they adjust his meds, drain him out, and then send him home. Usually his condition improves when he gets home but this time it hasn't. I think part is that he has given up because he has been told there really isn't much else that they can do. He does have a wonderful cardiologist who listens to him and is very proactive, but with different med changes there doesn't seem to be any improvement. They can only drain so much fluid before he starts having kidney problems.

Now he is on oxygen 24/7 where before he only used it when he needed it. My Dad was never a big guy, but he is under 6' and now weights under 140 lbs. He is tired all the time so he sleeps and doesn't walk around much so his leg muscles are weak. He is on a low does of an anti-depressant which also helps him sleep at night. His appetite is low and he is down in spirits. I visit when I can and I listen to him but it's so sad as he knows he won't get better and his quality of life isn't very good now.

Has anyone one through this? What should we expect? My older sister has been good with contacting different people and right now he has the visiting nurse coming in a couple times a week to check his vitals and the physical therapist is also in a couple days to get him to move around. On Friday a home health care nurse is meeting us there to find out what services my Dad needs/wants. We want to try this first to see if he can stay in his house with help before we have to move him into some sort of facility. My Mom is 85, legally blind and doesn't hear too well - she also has problems with her walking, had bleeding ulcer surgery almost 2 years ago and is on meds for that. She doesn't complain but we know this is eating her up and she looks exhausted. Every time Dad is in the hospital it drains everyone.

Just looking to see if anyone else has gone through this and if you have any words of help..

Thank you!

Jill
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:30 PM   #2
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Jill, I am sorry you are going through all this. I have not personally had any experience, and sure hope someone will offer you some good advice.

I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. I can not imagine the difficult choices ahead.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:09 AM   #3
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I have, not with congestive heart failure, but at the end with pancreatic cancer.. oxygen 24/7...sleeping a lot and just generally failing.

If you are planning on keeping him at home, and that is what he wants, know this. It can go very smoothly, him just going to sleep and taking that last breath with his loved ones around him or it can go not so easy. You might want to discuss this with your family, maybe hire a nurse to stay at night so that you can sleep during the day if it goes on for some time.

I am talking from experience here, it was the hardest thing my family ever did.....we still to this day cannot talk about those last days... our hearts are broken and I am still in counseling from it... I adored my husband, and I am typing this a year later through tears. I am speaking from the heart here, do what is best for your Mom and try to abide by what your Dad wants, if he wants to be at home... make sure you have the proper help..

HUgs and prayers,
Marsha
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:12 PM   #4
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I'm sorry that your family is going through this difficult time. I know how draining it can be to have a loved one with serious health issues.

My mom has CHF and Afib. She has been hospitalized several ties over the past year. In March, her Dr. prescribed a hospital bed to help elevate her head while she sleeps. This has helped her. It is covered by Medicare and her supplemental insurance. You may want to look into it for your dad.

Weight gain is a big issue with CHF. He needs to take his meds regularly, and I'm sure he is on a diuretic to help with water retention. Being as active as possible will help with this also. If he sits for extended periods during the day, have him elevate his legs so fluid doesn't pool in his legs. You may want to ask his dr. about compression stockings if he has issues with swelling in the egs. These are extrememly difficult to get on, so he will need assistance.

Since he was recently hospitalized and has a PT working with him now, it sounds like he may be eligible for this care covered by Medicare for a while. Take advantage of any and all assistance available. You mom needs all the help she can get at this time. If he has skilled nursing insurance, he may have coverage for in home nursing care. This could be a big help to your mom, and help him stay in his home longer.
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