Nurses often admire family caregivers of chronically critically ill patients. A study by Hwang and colleagues gives insight into the lives of caregivers of heart failure patients. Most primary caregivers were spouses or partners living in the same household as the patient. A total of 54% were employed outside the home, but 24% reported having to quit work or reduce hours. Caregivers provided a median of 20 hours of care per week; the mean duration of care was 4.5 years.

Caregivers identified several areas that negatively affected their perceptions of the experience of providing care:

This article raises awareness that caregivers’ needs should be addressed with each contact with the health care system. Information and support may reassure caregivers about their instrumental role in caring for loved ones with heart failure.

—Kimberly Whiteman,rn, dnp, ccrn

See Article, pp 431–442

When critically ill...

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