Heart disease is scary, especially when it affects a loved one. It is an ongoing condition that frequently lasts many years. A supportive network and helpful caregiver make a world of difference in heart disease care for seniors, so here is what you need to know to best support your loved one.
- Minimize stress for your parent or loved one. Keep family arguments and conflict, if any, away from your loved one. Stay as positive as possible while remaining realistic. People know when they are being patronized or pandered to. You want to avoid that, as it often causes tremendous stress and anxiety. Be willing to talk with your parent in straightforward terms; the key is staying away from extremes.
- Be an active participant in your loved one’s care team. Know what lifestyle modifications the doctors recommend, and work with your loved one to instill them. It is likely the doctor has recommended regular exercise (perhaps increasing gradually) to improve the heart and lungs, and a low-fat diet. Set an example for your loved one. Eat healthfully in front of him, and if he is supposed to quit smoking, do not smoke in front of him. Offer to exercise with him, and if he is resistant to starting, ask him to try it for a week. For someone who may have led a varied diet, a low-fat, low-salt diet may feel restrictive. Have your loved one sample various spices including thyme and cilantro to replace the zest that salt normally would add.
- Your loved one may feel lonely and like no one understands what he is going through. Urge him to join a support group, perhaps at his cardiac rehabilitation center. If that is not possible, you can get several references from the center. A group provides valuable support in care for seniors, socialization and ideas for the lifestyle changes.
- Gauge your loved one’s mood. If he still cries after a few months and has low self-esteem, you should help him seek therapy.