Importance of caregivers discussed at 15th annual HFSA meeting

Bryan Aldrige

September 19, 2011

During this year's 15th annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America, Dr. Michael Petty will be discussing his research on how to help caregivers, and specifically those who are taking care of a loved one with heart failure that now rely on left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), to survive.

In his study, Family Caregivers: Supporting the Support System, Dr. Petty addresses the 52 million Americans who currently provide approximately $357 billion in unpaid care to their senior loved ones. According to Dr. Petty, family caregivers spend at least 21 hours weekly supporting a loved one through bathing them, taking them to appointments, or cooking and cleaning for them – so its right to help them do so with ease.

"People are very committed to caring for their loved ones," Dr. Petty said. "Family and other caregivers are part of the backbone of our healthcare system. We are finding more and more that they develop issues as a result of the burden of caring for another person."

Dr. Petty also suggested ways to alleviate some stress, such as enlisting the help of home health services. Caregivers could also install a medical alert system that a senior can press if they fall and need medical attention right away.