According to the American Heart Association, more than 37 percent of seniors, age 65 and older, have suffered a heart attack or have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or angina. Heart disease is a significant health threat to seniors, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. If you’re caring for someone who has been diagnosed with heart disease, here are a few tips to help a loved one improve their health and live their best life.
Caring for A Loved One with Heart Disease
Creative Meal Planning: Seniors with heart disease require a diet low in sodium and fats while adding additional fruits and vegetables. At the same time, heart disease patients should keep a close watch on their caloric intake. This diet can get boring quickly and can be difficult to maintain without help. Limit processed foods, especially meats, and be sure to check the nutritional content of prepared foods. Check low-calorie and low-fat foods carefully because they often end up being high in salt and sugar. Check the internet for creative new recipes or find a heart-healthy take on old favorites.
Practice What You Preach: Smoking and alcohol consumption can exacerbate heart disease. Encourage your loved one to quit smoking and limit their drinking. If you’re a smoker, this could be a good time for you to quit. At the very least, try not to smoke around your loved one. Exercise is an integral part of heart disease recovery. Your loved one’s doctor can provide guidelines as to the type and amount of exercise needed. You can help by modeling an active lifestyle or participating in workouts or physical activities with your loved one. Doing the work WITH your loved one can be a huge source of support and encouragement for them.
Ask for Help:
- Write down any questions you have about your loved one’s care and take them to the next doctor’s appointment.
- Join an online or local support group to get helpful information and support from other caregivers.
- Contact your doctor, hospital, or the American Heart Association to find a local Mended Hearts program in your area.
Depression and anger sometimes affect heart disease patients, so be on the lookout for severe changes in mood, personality, or behavior, and don’t hesitate to contact a physician if the changes persist.