Domiciliary care | caring for others

Caregivers play a huge role in providing ongoing care. However, to be consistently engaged and motivated, it’s important to understand your own limitations as a carer and accept that there will be rewarding moments and times where you feel overwhelmed.

The role of the carer

Communicating this with your loved one can help you both understand what your role is and how you can best work as a team on a day-to-day basis. Carers are trusted individuals who provide vital emotional and physical support to those who require additional help. They may be a family member, close friend, or someone who works as a caregiver, nurse, or similar.

The specific role of a carer will depend on a variety of different factors, including the severity of the injury, how independent the individual is following their cardiac event, and their relationship with the carer.

Care is a broad word that can include everything from helping someone get dressed in the morning to preparing meals and sorting out day-to-day tasks like shopping and tidying.

There's also an emotional support element to being a carer that’s often overlooked. Carers are trusted individuals who can provide invaluable friendship and emotional support for someone recovering from a life-changing event.

Practical support techniques

The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t apply to caregiving. This is because individual needs are unique and complex. However, several principles underlie every caregiving relationship: acceptance, non-judgmental behaviour, encouragement, understanding, and kindness. Here are our top tips:

  • Encourage independence whenever possible 
  • Keep track of their progress 
  • Engage in their rehabilitation and recovery when feasible 
  • Share advice and ideas 
  • Collaborate discussions about helpful strategies 
  • Facilitate professional involvement when needed 
  • Be transparent about limitations

What’s a cardiovascular event?

A cardiovascular event is an isolated event that interrupts circulation or your heart’s ability to function correctly. The most common cardiovascular events are heart attacks or strokes. More rarely, someone you know may have heart rhythm problems or a cardiac arrest.

As a carer, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed where you might feel unsure about how best to help after someone has suffered a cardiac event.

Cardiac anxiety

Cardiac anxiety refers to the fear that another cardiac episode is going to occur because someone has an underlying condition or has experienced a cardiac event previously. Cardiac anxiety can lead to negative rumination over unhelpful thoughts.

Worrying about your health or the health of someone you care for means you limit your ability to be in the moment due to worrying about the future. If you are experiencing health anxiety, working with a professional can help.

Thoughts and feelings

It’s important to remember that talking about your thoughts and feeling with your loved one or a professional can help you work through any difficulties you might be experiencing. Common thoughts and feelings are: 

  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  •  Numbness 
  • Being protective 
  • Sadness 
  • Anxiety

Why talking is so important

Talking about how we feel can have a powerful impact on helping us process how we feel. This is also a wonderful way to build connections with the people who care about us most.

When caring for someone who has had a cardiac event, the fear of saying something wrong can sometimes mean we don’t say anything at all. This can lead to a breakdown in communication over time.

Following a cardiac event, talking about things that are on your mind can help take the burden off you and help your loved one understand some of the emotions you are experiencing. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation.

The importance of self-care

Looking after ourselves means we increase our capacity to care for those around us. Ensure that you set aside time every week for yourself. This will help you rest and recover and benefit you and your loved one in the long run. Talking about any feelings you experience during your personal time can also be productive.

The type of rest and rejuvenation preferred can differ from person-to-person. For some, going for a walk or getting some extra sleep is enough to feel better. For others, physical time away doing a hobby or something they love is necessary to recharge.

Don’t forget to reach out to your support network if you need some help. This includes seeking assistance from any organisations in your area who might be able to help or offer some respite if you are finding things difficult.

Supporting a caregiver

Connecting with your support network is a great way to get some respite, both mentally and physically. If you want to support a caregiver who is feeling overwhelmed, listen without interruption and help without assuming you know how they feel or what they need.

Never seek to diminish their thoughts or feelings and encourage them to seek professional help if needed.

Click here to find out more about our heart health services

Last updated Thursday 4 April 2024

First published on Wednesday 3 April 2024